Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Christmas / December 24, 2014

I absolutely loved Christmas growing up. I loved the snow, when it happened. I loved the town being decorated. I loved the family gatherings. I loved buying just the right presents for people. I loved wrapping my sister’s presents in ridiculously sized and shaped packages.

Three years ago, I was living with — and still together with — Heidi. She was adamant about not celebrating Christmas, really. But I bought us a tree, made some decorations featuring our cats, and put up some lights. There’s even a picture of us sitting in front of it like dorks. I bought her a few presents, with advice from her mom. Very low key. And I missed my family… the first time I wasn’t back in my hometown for Christmas.

Two years ago, Heidi and I were done. I was still living there while trying to close on my house. But I had no reason to stick around DC. So I went back to NY. My father was gone by then, so it was my sister and mother. And those two certainly have their fair share of conflict. Nothing more awful than a million other families, I’m sure. But it really brings me down on Christmas to hear nothing but bickering and fighting.

Last year, I was asked not to come back to New York for Christmas. They worried that if there was snow, it would be too hard to get me the 45 miles back to the airport. It’s really very depressing to be asked not to come home for the big family holiday, for any reason. I was in my new house, by that point, but my roommate and friend Paivi had just moved out a couple months earlier. So I sat alone on Christmas day.

This year, my mother mentioned in the Fall, that she had someone who could possibly drive me to/from the airport. So in November, I sent both her and my sister an email. I asked them to confirm that ride, since I needed to not get stuck in New York… I have work, a house, a cat, a girlfriend, and a life, to take care of in DC. I know it sounds a bit obnoxious to insist on a ride. But I did remind them that I spend thousands of dollars a year and travel thousands of miles a year, and not once had my immediate family ever been to visit me in DC, in the 17 years I’ve lived here. So a ride was the least they can do, in my opinion. (While I wasn’t bitchy about it… no, I wasn’t subtle. It’s family… who else can you be as direct with). The only other request I made in that email was that I not have to listen to them bitch at each other over the holiday. The whole point of coming home for the holidays is family and closeness… so if I couldn’t expect any of that, I had friends here who could make for a more loving atmosphere. I didn’t ask them to be friends, or to even talk. I just asked them not to bitch about each other.

I don’t know what I expected. I’m sure I expected something along the lines of them explaining why they were right about whatever they were fighting about this year. Or maybe telling me I was being a prick. Or maybe apologizing for not being able to promise anything. But… what I got… was nothing. No response, from either of them. I even followed up 2 weeks later with text messages. Still no response. It’s now Christmas eve, and the closest thing I’ve had to a response is a 2 sentence note from my mother saying she would get back to me about it later. I think it was better when they just asked me not to come home.

I have a girlfriend this year. And Jennifer is wonderful. She is very loving and comforting about such things. But she also has her own family, and they are in Louisiana. And so is she, now.

I don’t like Christmas, much, now. I still send presents up to NY. I still get a tree and put up some decorations. But there are no happy feelings behind it.

Why write this? I kind of wanted to document this whole thing to get it out of my head. And I kinda just felt like it.

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