I found this earlier today while thinking about Christmas. I feel pretty much the same today as I did then and I’m so grateful to have found my own way instead of the way of others that I tried to follow for so long.

December 18, 1993

My father said never trust a smiler. So I didn’t. I became a frowner when I was a young boy. I still don’t smile much but more than before. I tended toward the negative but there was something that kept me from living there. I can’t live where I don’t fit. I didn’t fit so I wandered and wondered. I didn’t know what I was wandering toward but wandering was more comfortable than staying where I didn’t fit.

When I think about Christmas as a young boy I remember that there was never enough for me. The used bicycle wasn’t good enough. My shame needed something new. Already I was worrying about what “they” would think.

My memories of teenage Christmases are of me walking around Jersey City alone wearing some article of clothing I had bought for myself and that I felt good in. To be sure I received gifts from my parents but I preferred my taste. I went to Scuppy’s Pool Hall and shot pool with the guys. They weren’t really “the guys”. They were peripheral to me and I to them. We were useful to each other then. I don’t know where any of them are today and it doesn’t matter very much to me. That’s how it was at Christmas and all other times during my teens. I wandered and wondered and I wandered more than I wondered. Today I wonder more than I wander but I still wander.

During those times I thought happiness was a Christmas requirement and I wasn’t happy. I was OK but not happy in the way it appeared everyone else was.

Later on, in my early twenties, I came across people who said Christmas was a sad and lonely time. It appealed to me so I took it on and for the last 25 or so years it was my Christmas mantle, worn proudly. There were times when I enjoyed Christmas but it never lived up to my expectations. There was always something missing so the mantle worked.

This year is different. I am with myself and responsible for myself. I’ve left blame behind and replaced it with responsibility. THE FREEDOM IS BREATHTAKING!!! I’m enjoying shopping. As I write this there is Christmas music playing in the background and I am serene.

As I think about Christmases from my youth in this new frame of mind I remember sitting near the tree in our house on Ege Avenue and the fragrance comes to me even now. The Byberg’s were three sisters who never married and were friends of my mother. I remember that every December 23rd they would arrive at our house with the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. I can taste them now and they have never been equaled. The 23rd was also the day we decorated the tree. These are the joys I’m remembering to replace the pain I’ve created around my early Christmas memories.

For me the problem has always been extremes; either the brilliance of euphoria or the darkness of depression. I never seemed capable of euphoria. “Never trust a smiler.” So I tended toward depression. I never considered the middle. There was nothing to hold on to. It wasn’t special.

I am in the middle now and I am comfortable and quietly happy. As the thought that I’m not euphoric flashes into my mind I ricochet to the other side, to sadness but I’m writing and writing is my savior. So I return to the middle, to comfort, to serenity.

Posted December 17, 2007


wow, the middle. Like that old TV ad, “So this–is the dining room?” said by a guy wandering through the house in wonder at this never-before-noticed room.
I get it.
great post, thanks.

serenity to fall on the ground and spread to open up and see and then to be able to conciously pick up the pieces rather than dancing to the confusion thank you wonderful write

I was always taught to smile, be happy no matter what. Faking it was necessary, but never show the frown….. I never knew I was projecting lack of trust…. at least to some. Now it makes sense, since most of the time, I was faking….

Post a comment

(You may use HTML tags for style)