Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Widow Advice #4 It IS a Wonderful Life

Dear Readers,

I realize that the topic for this letter is out of step with the season. Spring is a breath away and here I am talking about Christmas. Just switch it in your mind to Easter/Passover so you don't panic and think,

"Damn, was I in a coma and I slept through a few seasons? I hate when that happens."

Yesterday I answered this letter for a sample chapter about holidays and anniversaries to show to my possible publisher tomorrow. I'm too lazy to write a new one for the blog - so here it is.

Also, I'm a teeny bit concerned that my response might be a teeny bit frivilous - My mood dictates my answers. I wrote this wearing my dalmation slippers - the ones I bought to lift my spirits. They may have done TOO good a job.

Please let me know if you think I answered Marion J. in a responsible way. Naturally, I want to be entertaining but it's important that these people who bother to write to me feel somewhat satisfied.

Thanks again for reading - there are so many blogs out there now to read and you chose me...wow...I feel like Sally Fields.

Dear Carol,

This is the second Christmas that I'll be alone. My beloved Fred passed in October two years ago and my son Charlie and his wife and their daughter live in Hawaii.

Last year was horrible. I sat in front of the television eating soggy pizza and watching "It's a Wonderful Life." I was resentful that Fred died on me and left me alone. At 67 my life certainly didn't feel wonderful.

This year my son offered to send me a plane ticket to come to spend Christmas with them, but I am afraid to make that long trip alone. (I live in New Jersey)

I wish they would come to me. I should have had more children. Fred was from a big family and wanted to dote on his only son. Now, Charlie is far away and I'm alone.

Any suggestions to make the holidays more bearable for me?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (not for me)

Marion J.

Dear Marion J.

I counted - you used the word 'alone' four times in your short e-mail to me. I worry that the way you describe yourself is who you'll become. Granted, technically you are alone, but perhaps I can find a more uplifting word.

Hmmmm...after checking www.dictionary.com under the thesaurus it turns out that 'alone' is far more uplifting than it's counterparts. Here are the words they say have the same meaning:
abandoned - by oneself - companionless - deserted - desolate - detached - forlorn - forsaken - friendless - hermit - lonely - single - solo - stag - solitary - traveling light - unattached and ironically - 'widowed'.

I laughed out loud at 'deserted' and 'friendless' but that's just me. It seems another approach is needed for you.

My instinct is to tell you to suck it up and fly over to Hawaii to be with your family. However, the last time I followed my instinct I polished off an entire half gallon of vanilla fudge ice-cream and believe me, it wasn't pretty. My instincts are far better for others, though. I rarely recommend that a widow gorge herself.

You are fearful to fly without a companion and this is understandable. When I am faced with my fear - quicksand - I ask myself, 'Can I wake myself up from this terrible nightmare? and 'What is the worst thing that could happen?' In your case stepping on to a plane will not pull you in never to be seen again unless you fly over the Bermuda Triangle.

You don't say who you and Fred celebrated with all the years before he died. If you invited family and friends to your home for past holidays why not call them and invite them for this year? If it's too much for you then ask them to each bring a dish. (filled with food)

People are aware how isolating widowhood can be during the holidays and they may send a card, but they stay away. Our very presence is a frightening reminder of how fragile life is. This is why sometimes we must be the ones to reach out.

It's impossible to invite yourself, yet if you extend an invitation they may say,

"John and I were just about to call you."

Yes, they will be lying, but with that invitation in your back pocket (not literally) you can confess that being a hostess is overwheming for you this year. Tell them you'd be thrilled to accept what we know is their gracious yet empty gesture.

If you're uncomfortable with any of these suggestions my final thought is: how about you celebrate with my family and I take your ticket to Hawaii?

Try to make the best of it...It IS a wonderful life...

Carol - Poor Widow Me