{ Monday, December 23, 2002 }

So Sick. And Leaving.

I woke up this morning at six thirty. I am sick. Chills, fever, nausea, the whole bit.

I'm leaving this afternoon to go to Cincinnati for Christmas. My mother doesn't believe in sickness. It's one of her favorite jokes now. "Girls, are you allowed to get the flu?" "No, Mom."... Right up there with "allergies are something children make up to get attention." -- Grandma. Shelly never missed a day of school. I only missed for chicken pox (I had them four times, but still) and the first time I was on crutches I missed a couple days while I learned to walk.

So, don't think that I'm going to get any sympathy or even really be allowed to lay down. Two tums and back to the Christmas shopping. Have I mentioned that I haven't done any of that yet? Well, Shelly and I bought something wonderful for Mom and her fiance before she left North Carolina and Favorite Uncle brought it home for us and has been storing it in his basement since. Really, this year, the only other presents I need to get are for the cousins gift exchange and Shelly.

Shelly and I normally only spend about $15 on eachother for Christmas. And she always tells me what to buy her. So, that one will be easy enough. For the cousins, we got one very easy to shop for cousin and one that I have no idea about.

It's Mom's year to host Big Family Christmas Eve. It should be a good time. I'm sure Julie (our dog) will be so excited to have fifty or so people to love on her. And Emily (Shelly and my cat) will make herself very scarce. When I talked to Mom last night she gave me some classic Catholic Mother Guilt. You know, "I could have used some help" "I'm sorry.", repeat nine times, followed by "This will do" a thousand times.

But I think she'll really love her present and after the year she's had (all the grief I've given her combined with Shelly moving to California and not seeing her for the last seven months), during which she continues to tell everyone that she has "Angel Children", she totally deserves a present she'll love.

So, I'm sick. I feel like hell. But I guess it's time for me to get up and get dressed like my mother's devoted daughter, and prepare for an unknown amount of time shadowing her from gathering to gathering. It's an art, that devoted daughter act. My female cousins and I have it down to a science. There's a lot of eyeliner and twin sets involved.

Mostly you just go wherever your mother goes and sit there like a lady and smile and say pleasant things and laugh appropriately at things that aren't really funny, but are just "so darling". And you use words like "darling". There's usually a lot of tongue clucking at these things, but I'm not old enough to participate in that yet. I think you have to be married before you're allowed to "Oh. [Sigh!] [Cluck!] Isn't that just such a shame?". As a young, unmarried girl, I just get to sit and smile and nod and eat bland cookies off a napkin and ponder why I was handed a Diet Coke without being asked (silently of course).

Those are my holiday plans. Same as ever. I become a mindless drone with perfect make-up and do my mother's bidding. Somehow, Shelly never really got sucked in to all of that. I don't know if it's because I'm the oldest or if she lost out when she didn't pledge a sorority in college. Or maybe it's because Shelly isn't very good at smiling and nodding while other people say things that make them sound like idiots without correcting them.

But don't get too confused. Even Shelly puts on make-up for these family parties. No really. She does too own some. I gave it to her. All three of us (Mom, Shelly and me) in bras, make-up and sometimes even a Catholic Church. It's really quite amazing the way holidays make people do crazy things.

I know I'm leaving at four o'clock Mom Time today (sometime between three pm and tomorrow). I know of a few events that are happening between now and whenever it is I get back (including plans of not sleeping on Christmas Eve so as to maximize keledy's minute in Cincinnati). I have no idea when someone is going to drive me back to Lexington. Sometime between the 26th and the 30th sounds about right to me. There's really no telling. Shelly leaves on the twenty-ninth. Mom might want to keep it all family-time until then.

So, expect the updates to be coming from Mom's house when I have the time and I'm not busy trying to sleep off the flu that I think I'm getting.

posted by mary ann 8:31 AM