I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t want anything for Christmas this year.
People would ask me and I’d kind of shrug my shoulders and say, “I dunno.”
I’m not greedy. I don’t usually ask for much. But I couldn’t think of a thing.
I thought maybe I was just too caught up in the day-to-day of work (and those can be some long days) and family obligations.
I thought maybe that as retailers continually move up the beginning of the season every year — Bassett Place had its decorations up in October — that I just wasn’t ready for it that early.
I tried to watch my favorite Christmas specials, like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but the first airings were right after Thanksgiving and the first week of December.
I usually get into it by the second week of December. But not this year. Even putting up our modest decorations didn’t seem to put me over the line. I was late with Christmas cards this year. That rarely happens.
I thought maybe it was because work can be a grind sometimes and had worn me down. I crank out a lot of copy. The newsroom was moved from the second floor to the first floor of the Times’ building over the summer. We are in a smaller and much noisier area now, with loud talkers, yellers and people who turn up the TVs.
I'm used to newsroom noise, but this can make it difficult to concentrate sometimes (even with headphones on) and hard to hear people I’m interviewing on the phone, some of them celebrities who've asked what all the noise was in the background. Embarassing.
Guess that’ll change when we move to a new building next year, once City Hall takes over our old digs.
That was only part of it. I thought maybe my lack of Christmas spirit was because it has been such a tough year, kind of like one’s I experienced the last few years of my former life as a pop music critic in Michigan.
My brother died one year, my dad left us another. I got divorced. My son’s health problems cropped up a couple of years later.
Maybe it was because I lost a good friend this year, Rosie Salas, to cancer, and often worry about her husband, Ruben, and sons Andy and Alex.
Maybe it was because of my son’s health issues, or the string of bad, or weird luck, that my poor 87-year-old mom has had this year.
It started with a 10-day hospital stay and long, slow, steady recuperation over the summer.
She’s a tough old bird, my mom, and the reason I quit a job I loved and moved home almost five years ago. Even though she’s about 95 percent of where she was before she went in, she’s not satisfied. She wants to be 100 percent. This would not surprise anyone who knows my feisty mother, and I admire her will and tenacity.
But her trials didn’t end there.
About a month ago some idiot, who may have been involved in an earlier hit-and-run incident, crashed his pickup truck into her frontyard. Thank heaven for the tree that blocked it from slamming into the house.
The truck snapped in half, the cab coming to rest on the rock lawn, but only after it sprayed rocks all over the place. Three windows and a glass storm door were blown out.
My mom said the loud boom she heard that night reminded her of the bombs dropping around her as a teenage girl in London, during the Nazi's relentless blitzkrieg bombing attacks. The sound of us sweeping up the glass reminded her of her parents doing the same thing after a raid.
We found rocks on the roof, in the backyard and in the swimming pool.
All but one of the broken windows have been replaced. Not sure why it’s taken so long to finish the job, but it has.
As if that wasn’t enough for one old woman to endure over a five-month stretch, the rock-and-concrete wall in her backyard collapsed on Dec. 14 — into the neighbor’s backyard.
That was the first day this month that winds whipped up into the 50s. A good 60 percent of that 42-year-old wall just disappeared into the yard below.
Now, she has a nice view of the back of the neighbor’s house, their yard, dogs and pool — not to mention the Christmas lights on the other side of the street.
See, there’s always a silver lining.
It made me realize something about this unusual Christmas. I know why I haven’t wanted anything for Christmas.
I’ve already got it.
My mom is still alive and kicking and feisty as ever.
I’ve got the love of a good woman and her family, a son who tries hard despite his struggles, a brother who constantly needles me (his life-long job), a sister who runs the show, a brother-in-law who comes through for us and an adopted “nephew” who keeps things light.
All them are right here in El Paso, as local newscasters like to say.
Even better, my oldest brother, sister-in-law and niece are here for the holidays from South Carolina.
Really, who could ask for more?
Well, there is one thing.
Please, please, please can we have a better 2013?
Goodbye, 2012. I’m not gonna miss you.
Doug Pullen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6397. Read Pullen My Blog at elpasotimes.com/blogs. Follow him at @dougpullen on Twitter.