The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
The big chill
Christmas is fast approaching. I can hardly believe it. Wasn't it just a couple of months ago that I was talking about my favorite traditional television specials and annual Christmas movies? What the heck happened? Where has the year gone?

I find that I really miss my family at this time of year. I've always cooked up a big feast for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We always had a full table. It took me half a day to prepare a nice dinner that my sons would wolf down in 20 minutes. Ah well... those were the days. Now I'm more likely to buy a half kilo of prawns from the fish market and Dan and I will sit down with a salad, prawns and cocktail sauce and call it Christmas dinner.

I'm worried about my son Andy. He has Bipolar disease, but I am suspicious that he is doing drugs. He's done some serious ones in the past, and now, I don't think his brain produces natural endorphins any more. He's gaunt, rarely eats - just drinks sweet sodas, and never smiles. He's emotionally distant from all of us and says he is leaving Connecticut to go back to Raleigh. He's doing this without knowing whether or not there will be a room for him when he gets there.

When did it all change? When my sons were little, Christmas was full of magic. I did my best to get them things that they wanted, that I knew I could afford. It wasn't easy, and they never got the expensive gifts that their friends got - they still don't. But we still loved the "free" things about Christmas: the handbell choir concert, the drive-through light display, cooking Reuben dogs in the fireplace on Christmas Eve (spicy sausages, smothered with saurkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing, in a bun), caroling through the neighborhood, Christmas videos, sparkling grape juice (cheap, from Big Lots) and Gardetto snacks... We didn't need a lot of money for a fabulous Christmas. We just needed a tree and a fireplace. Being together is what made it special.

One year, my son Chris came back from Fort Bragg with a video camera (he was in the army then,) and taped us opening our gifts. Andy was there - sullen, disruptive and uncooperative. When one member of a family has a mental illness, everyone suffers. I bought Andy a stereo, which he smashed only a few months later when he thought it was possessed by something evil.

Even with Andy's illness, I miss being all together. I love my family and there are times that I wish there was a Santa out there who would answer all of my Christmas wishes. At least, in my dreams, we're together - laughing, being silly, opening presents and eating Reuben dogs. The house is lit with a thousand lights and candles. Thank goodness no one can take that away from me - even if Andy takes himself away from his family. I wonder when we'll hear from him again.
posted by Melanie O. at 10:52 PM -
  • At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Marty said…

    Hello Melanie,
    Certainly no one can take those dreams and memories away from you. Sometimes that’s all that keeps us going. When it comes to memories, my childhood and my parents, I do not remember much of what was given to me in terms of material things. I have strong memories of the support, the laughter, the being together. I’m sure that is what you passed on to your children…’s hard when a child is beyond the age of being under parental control, but still is in need of it. It can be a helpless feeling. It can be especially hard when what they want and what they need are two entirely different things….on an upbeat note, love the pinup!!!

  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Thanks, Marty! :-)

    You know, I know several families who are dealing with similar mental health issues and it's not easy for any of us. Thankfully, there are great supportive people out there, like you. We all need to stick together.

    Glad you liked the Pinup! Cheers.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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