Monday, November 19, 2007

it's my birthday (tomorrow), and I'll cry if I want to (today and tomorrow, but hopefully not the day after)

So I've been in a huge funk lately. It's an annual thing: I always get depressed this time of the year. Some people who have been unlucky in love get depressed every year at Valentine's Day. Many, many people get depressed at Christmas. Me, I love Valentine's Day and Christmas. For me, it's my birthday which is the quagmire of unhappiness on the calendar.

The roots of this malaise are in my childhood. Let me just say that my own parents have forgotten my birthday twice. When I say forgotten, I mean F-O-R-G-O-T-T-E-N. One year they asked me why I was being so curt with them, and I informed them that it was because they hadn't called me on my birthday (or sent a card or a gift, but I left it at calling), and there was an awkward pause. "Umm... what... when is it... OH, YOU'RE RIGHT!"

My ex-husband sucked at my birthdays as well. The entire time I was married to him, I didn't have a birthday cake. In theory I could have made one myself or bought one, but that seemed too pathetic. One year he told me all excitedly about a bakery he'd gone to and a wonderful cake I would have loved which he'd considered buying. I heard this story over a cakeless meal at home.

Now the Sober Husband makes a genuine effort (and a genuine cake) each year, but still there's a seasonal depression. It's exacerbated this year by a recent visit from my parents and by a first-time-ever Thanksgiving funk. Thanksgiving has always been fine by me, a pretty happy day, but last year I was traumatized when none of my invitees RSVPed. Right up to the day before Thanksgiving, every time I asked, all invited guests would say, "Uh, I don't know." This was so weird for me. Every other year I'd invited people for Thanksgiving, I got firm answers and plenty of happy acceptances. Two of the invitees had spent Thanksgiving at my house the year before and had a wonderful time, getting drunk off French battle cocktails (the same drinks Napoleon's officers quaffed to get their nerves ready for the fighting) and eating past satiety. It's not as if I were reaching socially, as the invitees were comprised of my brother-in-law (the only in-law who likes me), his wife, a friend and her daughter, the friend's best friend, and a single woman who had proclaimed her loneliness and lack of options. When it came to the week of Thanksgiving, I had no idea what to buy, how much to cook, and whether anyone was coming. In the event, none of them did show up, but the children, husband and I had an amazing feast by ourselves.

This year, I couldn't bring myself to invite anyone. I couldn't set myself up for that again. At least the husband and children will be here, and indeed Iris Uber Alles has been shocked by my inertia. "Aren't you making that cranberry sauce again? I love that! It's good!"

I should focus on all the other Thanksgivings, where the guests RSVPed and came and were happy, and just write off last year as an anomaly. If it weren't the same frigging week as my birthday, perhaps I could, but it's just not the right time of the year for me to be breezy and glass-half-full. It's not as though I've been traumatized right out of inviting in general I've had some dinner parties since then, which were all perfectly fine (at least so far as I know. Lord only knows what the guests have to say). I just feel unwilling to try Thanksgiving again.

Last week, I felt great before my parents came (and before I had $1,800 in emergency repairs done to my car... which sadly does not appear to have been fixed, and before I had a fight with my husband over whether it is reasonable for his mother to require that we fly to Martha's Frigging Vineyard on the other side of the continent and stay in some godawful house with his family for HER birthday AND a squabble with the husband over whether it was reasonable for me to spend $17 on a Spongebob DVD for Lola, and, less selfishly, before the San Francisco bay oilspill, which is profoundly depressing and which causes guilt in me because my personal response so far has been only one day of volunteering). Hopefully next week will be another week of cheer. This week, though, is going to require a stiff upper lip (and possibly some French battle cocktails).

24 comments:

Anais said...

I'm SO sorry to hear about your RSVP experience last year. I've been plagued by a similar lack of response from various in-laws and have found it helpful, when my spouse allows it, to impose an RSVP deadline. "I really need to know by X date; otherwise I will assume you aren't coming." But people STILL resist answering. It's just plain rude.

Would you post the French battle cocktail recipe in your food blog? It sounds great!

Freewheel said...

I'm sure that your Thanksgiving meal is a vegetarian feast to behold. Your guests should have been there with bells on.

Anyway, Happy Birthday!

...and all the best for your Thanksgiving day.

hokgardner said...

Please send the recipe for the cocktails. We are hosting the clan of in-laws, including my not-so-nice mother-in-law. I may need liquid fortitude to make it through the day.

hokgardner said...

I got so caught up in the idea of a cocktail that would help me survive in-laws that I forgot - Happy Birthday!

A. said...

Awww. Sorry you are depressed. I was depressed too. Last week. Then I got really stinkin' drunk, and miraculously, starting the next day I felt so much better.

Anyhow, happy birthday. Let me know if you want me to make you walk/exercise (that's my other depressing killer). I think we only live about a mile apart.

A. said...

er, depressION killer.

I go take more SJW now.

The Woman of Science said...

I'm sorry you're bummed. If this was a forum, I'd post a smiley face holding a flower.

HB said...

Just to reassure you, we did have a delightful dinner and everybody enjoyed themselves immensely. Apologies for not sending a thank you note through the normal route.

Anyway, happy birthday (and Thanksgiving) and I hope this afternoon went OK.

Hayley

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thanks, guys. I love you all. A., we should go walking together. After Tgiving?

I will put up a link to the French battle cocktails tonight. I promise.

Hayley, the parent-teacher conference was okay. It was a mix of the teachers telling us, "Oh, Iris is so gifted at this, so gifted at that, so gifted at the other thing" and admonishing me that I should be cherishing her many gifts and working with her at home over them. I said that is well and good and she's encouraged to do no end of things in the home, but I'm also concerned that she's becoming quite conceited about her abilities and I want to encourage her to do things without building up more immense egotism. That inspired to the teacher to bring up that Iris signs her work "Iris Is Cool", which she would like quashed, and that Iris made some mistakes in math the other day (and so therefore presumably is not so gifted after all, which directly contradicted what she was saying before). Three out of four teachers wanted Iris separated from her friend, presumably forever, and the fourth said that her classroom "is a safe place for the friendship" and that she encourages them to be as crazy together as they wish and wants us to do likewise. Mixed messages abounded, to say the least.

Silliyak said...

For your birthday and your blues, I send you a mental image. (Because I couldn't find it on Utube) Bluto (in Animal House) smashing a bottle over his head and mugging,to cheer someone up. I'd do that for you (If it didn't hurt too much)

Silliyak said...

I'd like to add that your parents sound like very damaged people. Do you have any understanding of where that damage might have come from? That understanding can help with acceptance and reduce stress. Of course you know the definition of stress- overcoming the desire to choke the living shit out of someone who desperately deserves it.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Dammit, I can't find the French battle cocktails recipe. It involved champagne. Let me suggest instead cranberry juice with champagne, a festive and a propos guzzle for the day. If that be too weak for your in-law laden spirits, make it vodka & cranberry juice.

Silliyak, you are right. My parents both had rough childhoods themselves. However, I can't understand why they chose to take a lot of it out on me as a child. I am so glad that my children are having a relatively happy childhood; I would NEVER resent them for having things better than me. Even knowing they had crappy childhoods doesn't, in my opinion, give them an excuse for being crappy parents to me and crappy grandparents to my children.

Captain Steve said...

Happy Birthday! And condolences on the in-laws. They must be mad as crackers, because your drink recipe sounds fabulous, to say the least.

Susan said...

First off HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I am lucky to know you, even if it's just in cyberspace!

I understand how you feel about the birthdays. DH's parents haven't called on his birthday since I've known him. I hurt for him every year. (I know, I shouldn't feel his emotions for him!)

Hang in there!

Epiphany said...

Happy birthday, darlin! Your girlies love you! Your husband loves you! Your children love you! You are a kick-ass cook and all-around awesome homemaker!

Fuck your parents. Seriously. Why depend on them for your self-worth?

For your birthday, I wish I could send you my favorite fantasy invention: the mirror that allows you to see yourself the way others see you!

Melissa said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You deserve better than your parents, and they didn't deserve you.

Birthday hugs ((()))) and toasts anyway to you!

lauren said...

Happy Birthday! (I, too, get depressed around my birthday for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with getting older. I'm totally fine with that part.)
Anyway, your parents definitely don't deserve you. You're awesome. I can tell, and we've never even met. And I wish *I* could come eat your delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Ours (Canadian) was so long ago, and I need a feast fix before Christmas. As my grandmother would say, "Keep your knockers up, if only to support your highball glass."

snowqueen said...

Happy Birthday!

I can sympathise on the forgotten birthday front - both my exes forgot my birthday every year and my ex forgot his own (our)daughter's 14th birthday last year - unforgiveable!

Chuck Sigars said...

Birthdays suck sometimes, I agree. I've sat through enough cakeless ones of my own to appreciate the feeling (a little, anyway, although my parents always called). Have a great day just to spite them.

smalltownmom said...

Happy Birthday!

My dad's been forgetting my birthday for at least 20 years now. He's just not a sentimental person and I've had to let go of the hurt. I wonder why I still bother to send him a card on his birthday?

2amsomewhere said...

Dropping a line to wish you a happy birthday (it is still your birthday in your timezone ;-) ).

I'm horribly behind on my Google reader traffic and through the good graces of a net friend, I was reminded of the occasion.

FWIW, I spent most of my day underground in a colocation facility trying to transfer several gigabytes of data to and from my computer. I did get a break around 2 pm your time to talk with Sober about work stuff. If my conversations diverted his attention from anything he was supposed to do for this special day, I apologize. :-)

--
2amsomewhere
(orders a round of sangria)

Brown said...

Late good-birthday wishes to you, DH. I'm going to be in SF for work the week of 12/10 - 12/14. If you'd be interested in entertaining a reader, email me.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Brown, you're on! Maybe we should have a convocation of readers at a bar? Or you could just come over for dinner.

Joyce said...

I love you, Carole.