When I spill salt, I quickly toss some over my shoulder. I cross my fingers when Berbatov gets near the net in hopes that he’ll score another goal.
Most of my superstitions are fairly harmless, even if they make me look a little silly. But as I watch other people gear up for Christmas, I’ve come to believe that some of my fatalistic superstitions are just making me unhappy. You see, I don’t want to get too excited about Christmas too early because then The Bad Thing will happen.
There is a basis for this belief. One year, I was really excited about Christmas. Right after Thanksgiving, I got out my trashy Christmas romance novels and started reading them. I was listening to Christmas carols and wearing holiday socks and shopping up a storm.
The day before Christmas Eve, I got a call at work from one of my then-husband’s coworkers. Then-Husband had had a seizure, I was told, and he was at the local ER. He’d been sitting down when the seizure hit, and his chair had tipped over backwards. He dislocated one shoulder and broke the other in a couple places. He spent Christmas Eve in the OR getting his shoulder screwed back on and Christmas Day in the hospital. We spent the rest of the holiday season learning about epilepsy. I still can’t see an ambulance racing down a street without thinking, “Somebody’s life just changed.”
After the seizure incident, I figured that if I could get to Christmas Eve without The Bad Thing happening, everything would be OK. So, fast-forward several years to one of my first Christmases together with Cee. We were living together, but neither of us knew the other’s family too well. We each wanted our family to like our partner/girlfriend/lover before we came out to them. So, we decided to have her family for brunch on Christmas Eve and my family in the evening. Great.
Brunch was well underway when I started having these pains — kind of like cramps on steroids. I excused myself and went upstairs to writhe around on the bed and then puke my guts out. Repeatedly. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on because I didn’t want to make our guests uncomfortable. After her family left with a “Well, tell Lisa Merry Christmas wherever she is,” Cee came up to find out what was going on. I explained, and we headed out to the ER. I was diagnosed fairly quickly as having a kidney stone. After a shot of industrial strength ibuprofen, I was discharged in time to play hostess to my parents. But I spent the rest of the holiday season waiting for the stone to work its way out. And it did. It was not pleasant.
I’ve spent the years since then keeping my head down and my expectations low. But I’m feeling a stir of cautious optimism this year. I’m ready to believe that looking forward to Christmas and The Bad Thing really, really don’t have anything to do with one another.
So I’ve subscribed to this Advent calendar thing where I’ll get a short story every day in December. I’m guzzling water and taking cranberry pills to ward off kidney stones. (It’s only practical.) And I’m going to listen to the radio station that mixes in the occasional Christmas carol. Baby steps, right?
Looking forward to Christmas will not make The Bad Thing happen. Knock wood.
Photo by TooFarNorth.