Greetings from the curmudgeonly protagonist that stars on this blog, ME. It is New Year's Eve and I'm about to order dinner off the internet because we live in the future and that is how we get food now. I realized as I opened the site to order that this will be the third consecutive holiday in 2014 where I've ordered takeout by myself and not celebrated the holiday and since THREE IS A TREND, I'm delivering a hot take about it. I have never liked Thanksgiving so I felt that doing nothing on Thanksgiving was going to be no big deal when I did nothing for the second year in a row. But I was wrong and I ended up regretting the decision as I saw Instagram photos going up of people being with friends and family in soft light. I cried into the phone to my dad that I had fucked up again. He said that I was loved unconditionally and that he was proud of me. I was grateful to have been half-raised by a man who for my whole life has fought an uphill battle against the expectations of how men ought to show affection as taught in Arkansas in the 1950s and 60s. I ordered a Thanksgiving special from a local diner off Seamless.
A man arrived at my door about a half hour later with my meal. Because of other positive elements of how I was raised, I offered a 100% tip to the delivery man because he was working a holiday. He initially refused, remarking that I'd already tipped on Seamless. I said, "But you're working a holiday!" to which he replied, "Yeah, but you're ordering Thanksgiving from a diner." He was sympathetic and sincere. An empathy stalemate had begun. I laughed and replied something self-deprecating and insisted that he'd ruin my holiday if he didn't take it and so he did. My meal looked like this and I managed not to cry on it:
On Christmas Eve, I had a disappointing experience that I'll not get into here that lowered my mood for the first Christmas I'd be spending alone. My gifts were sent to my office so I had nothing to unwrap. It is a function of a rather juvenile privilege to want to unwrap presents at 29 but it is also a function of nostalgia and a Christmas spirit that I try to subdue at time because people would be sickened by how saccharine it is. I ordered sushi from a restaurant that I get food from at least once a week.
The delivery man is familiar at this point and we are friendly. But on Christmas Day he burst out of the elevator as if he was Santa Claus emerging from the chimney, his arms wide open for a hug as if we were old friends. He embraced me and wished me a merry Christmas. I surrendered to his affection and wished him a merry Christmas as well, stunned silent by the actual Spirit of Christmas standing at my door. He was the only person I saw that day.
I realize that recalling these two incidents as a white woman living alone and working in media might appear on the verge to devolving into a troubling reflection on the gentleness of the working class in New York City. But it is meant as a reminder that every day, there are strangers in the world who are at the ready to save your life. It is a reminder that I will find these strangers in unexpected places and at unexpected times. And that you can be that stranger to anyone at any time too. There are empty spaces to fill in every life and you might be the perfect fit at any moment, so to be ready at every moment with the exact shape that your brand of kindness takes.
To paraphrase a quote I once heard about despair, "Draw closer, for it is not the darkness that will kill us but the cold." There are cold places all over that are marvelous places to put your warmth, and so reach out often and eagerly.
Happy New Year.