The Longest Month


Tuesday November 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Here come the holidays, like it or not. I, for one, do not. What I like even less is that I have no way to avoid them every year, and every year it’s a challenge to tough it out until December 26th. It’s always one of my most favorite days of the year, but this next month getting to it will be hell.

It’s getting to be such old news I don’t even want to write about it anymore, but I can’t help it. I’ve had a lifetime to try and find ways to “just get over it” and “move on” like all those Dr. Phil wannabes have been telling me for years and years, but it hasn’t worked. Every year it’s torture.

The very nature of the holidays is to get together with family and create lasting memories that get passed down through generations. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are supposed to be an opportunity to bond and share and catch up with people that are supposed to be our confidants.

I realize nobody has a Brady Bunch family situation, but those of us who grew up dented cans have a whole other level of dysfunction only another dented can is able to comprehend. There’s a level of psychological pain there I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and it comes back year after year.

It has always flabbergasted me how hearing just a couple of short notes of a Christmas song on a commercial or seeing a poinsettia on a fast food bag can take me right back to that place in my head I’ve been trying to bury since I was a kid. All it takes is a tiny trigger, and I’m right there.

I realize it’s the favorite time of year for uncountable millions – at least in North America. It is supposed to be a positive experience, and for most people I’m sure it is. Sure, everyone has some wacky relatives and maybe there are one or two isolated incidents that stand out, but for the most part over one’s lifetime I would say the majority of Americans look forward to this time of year.

On paper, that’s exactly the way it should be. There should be a time of year when families can come together and recharge batteries. I’m all for it, and I have wished for a family that would do exactly that since my earliest memories. It never happened, and every year is the ugly reminder.

Those who don’t understand what I’m talking about are always trying to give advice, and that’s almost as bad as the situation itself. “Come to our house” they say. “We’ll make you forget about those bad memories.” On the contrary. In fact it makes it worse. I know they mean well, but they aren’t able to comprehend how deep the pain goes. Only a dented can would be able to feel that.

I wish everybody could have a strong family to depend on and that I didn’t have to write about this misery every year, but I know I’m not the only one so I do. It feels at least a little comforting to know I’m not totally alone, so I’m putting it out there hoping someone else might be soothed.

One of the most haunting memories I have as a teenager was my best friend Timbo and me going to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve because neither one of us had anywhere else to go. It was a bunch of Jewish people and us. They looked at us like we were lost puppies.

Unfortunately, we were. In theory, this should be the start of the best time of the year. In reality this is the longest month of them all. I’m going to suck it up and look forward to December 26th.

My favorite day of the year. It means the holidays are OVER.

My favorite day of the year. It means the holidays are OVER.

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