Seasonal variations

It’s not yet 8am on Sunday, but I’m up and about feeling restless. With a bit of luck, I’ll find my way back to bed after this.

It’s a couple of days after Christmas and, before me, a couple of weeks of vacation time. This morning I made a couple of decisions I’ve been stewing on.

I was expecting to travel down the coast to Wye River to spend time with friends. I’ve opted out of that, basically because I can’t really face it. I’m not really in a social mood and troubled enough that the thought of being among people for a few days is too much to contemplate. The trip away might be beneficial in other ways, but the effort at pretence becomes a burden when you’re in this place.

I also had an invite to an NYE dinner party I’d have been happy to attend – the food is guaranteed to be top-notch, and the company (all strangers to me, but one) sounds interesting (I can put on a show for a few hours). I’m not going though. It sounds corny, but I feel a responsibility to JV, who is by himself. We’ll likely have a lame NYE together, but I can’t abandon him.

I was at his home for Christmas dinner. If you recall, I was ambivalent about being there. I was right to be, as it turned out.

I got there, we exchanged presents and had a drink. While JV prepared the dinner he’d so carefully planned, his daughter went upstairs to play. About 45 minutes later, we could hear loud, theatrical sobs audible over the sound of music playing. JV went to investigate and returned shrugging his shoulders. He suggested his daughter was unhappy she wasn’t getting the attention she thrived on.

After another 45 minutes, we heard the same sobbing. He went to check on her again and returned grim-faced. She’s going home, he told me. She’d called her mum already, asking to be picked up because she felt ‘unsafe’.

I was shocked and angry. We were about to serve up the dinner JV had crafted with so much effort. As his daughter is intolerant of many foods, it had been put together to cater for her – now it was just the two of us eating it, and pretty miserable it was, too.

His daughter has been over-indulged forever, particularly by her mother. Because she has special dietary requirements, she tends to be picky with everything, and a tendency to feel special due to it. I’m reluctant to condemn an eight-year-old child – kids will be kids, and they’ll grow out of many childish foibles. The problem is that she’s now an only child growing up with her parents separated and well aware of the power that gives her. Ever since I’ve known her, she’s been the same – a bright but entitled brat. JV is well aware that she has to change.

I felt so sorry for him – his first Christmas as a single father and putting his heart and soul into making it right – only to have it ruined very cynically by a child who felt she wasn’t being indulged enough.

I left early feeling flat. It was enough for me to remind myself that I can’t have another Christmas like this. It was a weary acceptance without any heat to it. I felt sad for JV; me, I can take it.

Yesterday was a lovely lazy day sitting on the couch, watching the Boxing Day Test. Towards the evening I felt melancholy again, but I recognise it as the seasonal variant, as it was on Wednesday. Christmas is hard for many people. I wouldn’t say it’s hard for me, though it was one year. More often, I’ll have moments when it comes to the surface, and I’ll be pervaded by sorrow.

There’s no mystery to it. I have a lot of memories, and many of them lovely, but all those times have passed, and I’m reminded of the people I loved who have gone, and the happy occasions I’m no longer part of. It’s a part of my problem, perhaps, that I’m able to swallow it up generally and rationalise it in my mind. It’s how I’ve endured for so long and kept going one step after another, but I’ve come to believe that it’s unhealthy in the long-run. I carry it with me like a stone, and sometimes I feel it. I need to dispose of it and move on.

I don’t expect any revelations over the next fortnight, but I hope to come to some understanding within myself. I’ll busy myself with day trips and reading and writing, knowing that I must return to the grindstone soon. All I want, really, is an idea of what I really feel, and what I really want.

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