My family, if nothing else, certainly knows how to do holidays.
Something just always happens when my family gets together (all women, now four of us, save for the one I married and the one I birthed). So if more than two of us are in a room, especially over a holiday, especially over THE holidays, drama always ensues. Usually our fault (self-created drama from the tension of having so many strong personalities in one place), sometimes not anyone's fault at all.
It was Christmas Eve, and all was going smashingly well. My sister had gone way overboard and sent this for my son (yes, that's right, FOUR FEET WIDE. Mind you, my living room is about eight feet wide. Before furniture). So the drama of having a box as big as my porch, the daily fighting as to WHY ARE YOU DEPRIVING MY NEPHEW as we fought to send it back happened pre-holiday, was done and resolved (we won, of course). The fact that the big fight (there's always one, every holiday, that's the rule) had happened and was settled before the first flight touched down was a relief. And a first.
This was also the first year that my son really, really got Santa, or, more importantly, got what Santa could do for him, so it was pretty much the most exciting and fun day ever for all of us.
So, it was Christmas Eve. We had a horrible Christmas CD playing--like really untalented Bing Crosby wannabes on a CD someone somewhere had given us, wine was pouring (an inch for me, a foot for everyone else), my son was on Santa watch on norad.org, tracking Santa's movements around the world.
Caught up in the total familial moment, my sister and I, planners both, were off an a tangent of where we were going to vacation this spring, and she wanted to go to Italy this summer, and maybe we could all do the beach again and she swore she wouldn't pick a fight and try to get a car service to pick her up again (and charter a plane) from our house in the middle of nowhere in the Outer Banks (true story)....
And then we looked over at my mom, usually the leader of all such preposterous plans, who had fallen silent.
"I have something to tell you" she said.
"I knew something was wrong," my sister thought.
"Mom's cheeks are so gaunt," I thought.
"I'm sick" said my mom.
And we immediately assumed our roles: my mom, the matriarch, trying to keep it together. She had wanted to wait until after the holidays, but just couldn't keep it in any longer, but was still trying her hardest to be strong. My sister, ever the drama queen, stood up, crying and yelling about how we were going to fix this and ohmygod and she hadn't endured 800 crappy bar mitzvahs with her former husband to not get him, humongous cancer donor, involved and damnitdamnitdamnit all to hell. And me, calmly trying to get to the bottom of the story, voice steady, internalizing it all, waiting to break down until I could get out of the room that was getting smaller by the second.
And also true to form, my mom didn't break until after her two dramatic daughters (one internal, one external) had left the room, telling my husband, the true pillar, the whole story (while preliminary, it was worse than she had led on); my sister, after her round of melodrama, taking the decisive action by immediately getting said ex-husband on the phone, who in turn had the heads of the two largest care centers in the world in conference by 9am on December 26, mapping out the strategy; me, up in my room, frozen, panicked about the future, panicked about my mom, not knowing what to do.
And now we're here. She's almost done with phase 1 of the big 3: chemo, masectomy, radiation. She just wants to be home, wants to see her grandson and the daily progress of her soon-to-be new grandbaby.
I just want her here.
So that's where I been.