Not This Christmas.

This Christmas, my boyfriend’s mother decided to ignore his phone calls and later screamed that she detests him because he has me for a girlfriend. I moved in too soon, I’m too young, and the vodka bottle on the countertop in our kitchen indicates that I am an alcoholic, etc etc etc. She says she will “never forget” coming to the house, walking in to the garage and hearing me “singing over the stove” because it was disrespectful to her deceased daughter-in-law. And recently she spotted a Christmas card at one of her son’s homes signed by me (the horror) which threw her over the top.

Every Christmas, this happens. It couldn’t get any worse. And I’ve never spoken a word to her (she has forbid having me in her presence from the moment she heard of me).

Well. I just slipped this in to her mailbox. She has one long overdue visit from a ghost of Christmas past.

Happy holidays, everyone. Don’t take shit from anyone.

 

***

If I could imagine such a message to be delivered, I would imagine this.

My Dear Dorothy,

I am praying that our Savior blesses you this holiday season and offers peace from the difficulties you face in your life. I am so sorry that you are struggling with these very real chapters in the lives of people you know. It would sadden me to know that your disapproval and resentments have hurt others I cared so much for while I was here, so here are some things to consider as you push forward.

My death is not one to be avenged by hatred or judgment. No lawsuit will make wrongs right. There are always circumstances no one can change, and a plan that only God can understand. The picture will never look perfect to anyone. You will never earn the perfect salary, never not have regrets, never not make mistakes, never be happy unless you can accept things for what they are and make a conscious decision to be thankful for your blessings. You can do everything with pure intent and still be the villain in someone’s story, which is why it is important to remember the saying: those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

My life on Earth with Daniel was our time together, and will always be meaningful. But the house I lived in, for the too-short time that it was, is not meant to be a museum of times gone by. I am not limited to or preserved in any ceramic or rug, and I would never want sentiment for me to prevent your son from love and companionship as his story continues. When I knew of my condition I told my husband that he would find someone younger – and who knows how I came to say that, but my wishes for him are more important than anything that would keep him unhappy, entombed by the tragedies of the past.

I never knew Autumn, and Autumn never knew me. Your harbored list of reasons to dislike her is unwarranted in the light of the greater truth: that no matter what and despite everything you may think, she was created by the same Father who made me, holds true love in her heart for your son and brings a smile to Daniel’s face. It doesn’t matter what you or any one else has gossiped about during trying times. It doesn’t matter what you think you can discover when you go through a person’s things. It doesn’t matter what you think her credit score is, what beloved thing she unboxed and set on the mantle, what her habits are or what her age means. None of those things matter – and I would hope you never measured my worth by those terms.

And please, don’t think you please me by believing that Autumn should not sing. I could never have heard enough music in that house! This season Daniel and Autumn went to see a movie after my own heart – the sequel to Mary Poppins, a Disney production, and as the story’s father and his children were mourning the loss of their wife and mother in a time of depression, Mary began to sing to them:

Do you ever lie
Awake at night
Just between the dark
And the morning light
Searching for the things
You used to know
Looking for the place
Where the lost things go

Do you ever dream
Or reminisce
Wondering where to find
What you truly miss
Well maybe all those things
That you love so
Are waiting in the place
Where the lost things go

If I could have looked down on them at that moment in their lives, I would have seen the tears in both of their eyes as the weight of the losses of this world pulled at their hearts. And I would have agreed with the nature of Mary Poppins, that a new adventure could not come sooner.

I made great efforts to keep Daniel on better terms with his family. So if Autumn sends a Christmas card when he is too busy for such thoughtfulness, do not see the greeting in someone else’s home as an evil deed. She, like I did, believes that it is never too late to tell a family member that they matter, no matter how estranged…

And she cares about you, too, in spite of all you think you may know. She is always making sure your son has an offering or a kind word for every occasion. When the two of you are at odds, she prays that you will be a positive force in Daniel’s life once again. She sees your excommunication, and raises you an era of new hope and personal growth.

God bless you, Dorothy. I loved my time on Earth, loved you and and love forever with my Father. There was and are those things that I’ve loved most: laughter, smiles, singing, dancing, children, company and celebration. Let go of everything else.

Only love.

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At This Point, or, Pray For Us

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Things escalated kind of quickly with the chorus drama, so much in fact that I adjusted privacy settings for a while. I know that feeling, those clues, when someone is suddenly popping up as “people I may know” or maybe they’re commenting on things I like when I haven’t told them I like said things…

there was a little virtual footprint hunt going on. And honestly, I understand. I’m a tracker myself.

I have mentioned joining a choir, feeling like an outcast from the seemingly dismissive elitists within it, and having found a friend to confide in. I’ve also told the story about how I secured a spot in the honors ensemble and got my own song with friends from the chorus. I’ve obviously been happy having the musical projects to work on in my spare time, and I have reaped the benefits of symbolizing unity by harmonizing with something bigger than Autumn. There is also admittedly some satisfaction – okay, not some, but a lot – in seeing those who never included me having no choice but to take notice in a change of season.

I’m so happy to be here with you girls! Yes, those are unicorns pulling the hot rod. This old thing, it’s my Hot Rod Slay All Day, no big deal.

Where I left off, NemmyNemz had stormed outside after hearing she wouldn’t have a solo this session (purposely leaving over $100 in tickets under her chair). Miss Divine, with her elaborate wigs and a history of numbers all to herself, had decided to quit the choir.

“You could have left that alone, you know,” Beth insisted. The way my nemesis would raise her hand and insist no one was singing correctly, how she bragged about having gone from opera houses during her university years to singing on risers in a church “only because her school kicked her out for financial reasons”, the things she published online about how “people who can’t even sing got solos, and they’re boring songs”, yadda yadda yadda negative energy yadda yadaa, it was suggested to me that if I had let fate run its course, the group may have been better off without the former headliner.

I live for the juicy juice. I pry. And in all honesty the thought of the divorce being so suddenly settled left me with the threat of a certain emptiness inside. Is that why we always see the Joker and Batman live another day together?

I reached out to Nemz. I reminded her that she had bought tickets for her friends and family to see her, told her that she was an asset to the group and that the best revenge is definitely not accepting defeat. I told her she could just claim she had been having a rough time, slap on an ignorant looking smile and return to practice glowing in the face of her haters while taking some time to reflect and rebuild. A few harder jabs of tough love were thrown in there, too: I suggested she consider her last honors performance and tell me it wasn’t nasally (phrasing it “I just assumed you were really sick”). I suggested she still had growing to do, like learning to appreciate the talents of others and find ways to shine without body glitter.

She rejoined. It didn’t take long to realize that her personal brand may have left her with few supporters because she instantly started spilling the tea and inviting me out to places. I met up with her once, to hear her out, and I learned that the “dinky little choir” she was hating on had been the best and most important thing in her life for several years. She had an ego, made remarks that dropped my jaw, but something in me was totally living for her passion, her madness, her dissonance, and the empty chair next to her I had eyeballed for months wasn’t a challenge anymore. It was over. The goal’s behind me.

She went from totally ignoring me to “I have a great idea for a duet next session if you’re interested”.

Beth went from calling her “Nemz” to “Your Little Friend”.

“Maybe you should go talk to Your Little Friend, the director asked us to stand and she’s just over there sitting with her arms crossed. If that was a student in my class I’d be concerned.”

She’ll be fine. Maybe a little sitting before she stands again. And if so, I’ll support her.

In news more tangible, I am nervous for the concert. I hate micro-managing myself for things like “dress wrinkles fix” and “remember step stool”, etc. I hate leaving for one song to dress for another in record time. I hated learning that the best venue they could secure has folding chairs for the audience, meaning I had to find a supportive chair for my mom because the “chorus tooshy cushies” we apparently sell in the lobby are not to my level of recognition.

Nope. No ass pillows here with my name on them. I absolutely refuse. Don’t exist.

Also. We keep going flat as a choir during a capellas and it is hard to hear around me. I’m singing quietly and listening to the pitches get lower and lower. The director permitted music to be used for our German piece and I really wish the group could have shown him that we could all memorize it. And one of my dear friends is struggling, so I’ve made her special practice tracks, but I wish I had made them sooner. The director is not happy with the lack of covered vowels during our Latin song. Oh, and when the narrator introduced our small acts song he neglected to mention our violinist’s name, as if she is just some hired stagehand to the song, so I have to correct that before show time… did I mention I forgot the words to part of it too? That was a great way to show everyone how much everything means to me…

I hope this Christmas concert is entitled to a Christmas miracle.