‘Tis the Season

For me, this is a season of wonder and joy.  My older girls are home from college, the younger two are filled with excitement — baking gingerbread cookies, decorating the tree, looking forward to visits with extended family that we don’t see near often enough.  There have been holiday parties with our friends, and a few quiet evenings to ourselves.

My sister called last night from Houston to ask what I want for Christmas, but I don’t really have an answer.  I have all that I need, and really don’t have many wants.  What I want is to enjoy her visit next week, to play with her children, and be thankful that my loved ones are doing well.

Joy is not a product of economic circumstance, though having one’s basic needs met certainly makes it much easier.   That said, some of the happiest, most joyful, grateful people I’ve ever met live in a little mountaintop village in Mexico; though they live in one or two-room abodes, with a single telephone in the entire village and electricity so scant that they have to choose between powering the refrigerator or turning on a light, they wake up every day praising God for what he provides. 

In that village, a hot water heater is a 50-gallon drum on the roof, pre-heated by the sun.  To take a hot shower, the father builds a small fire beneath the drum filled with rainwater.

In this country, we have so much more, but happiness is more elusive for some.  It’s a choice, I think, but one that some folks simply don’t realize that they have.  As the holidays approach, observing others’ joy can lead to depression and envy; in the worst cases, those attributes can actually drive away the real treasures — love, friendship, sharing, and gratitude. 

Many have noticed in the past few weeks that the online activity over at the dead-tree daily has gotten downright ugly.  I cannot begin to explain why the management of the paper has allowed this, as it’s a poor reflection upon them.  However, the story behind the story is a sad one — of how one individual’s poor choices, bitterness and envy destroyed all that really mattered.

I will not tell Boater’s story to the world, but for my friends who are wondering, log in as a registered user to continue reading.  If you’re not registered, e-mail me and I might send it. 

[hide]I quit even looking at the Oak Ridger forum quite a long time ago, but around Thanksgiving, a friend of mine e-mailed me a heads-up that I might want to check on it.  So, I did.  A new poster going by "Boater" had begun a thread calling for drug and alcohol testing for school board members… following up with an allegation that I am an alcoholic.

If I were not a public figure (even school board qualifies as such), that statement would constitute libel.  But since I am, there’s not much I can do.  However, it would help to understand where that stuff is coming from.

Boater is the ex-wife of a friend of mine.  Although I and other friends tried to get to know her, tried to include her, and tried to befriend her (because married people generally tend to be friends as couples), she didn’t really want to be part of our circle.   But, I did get to know her well enough that she told me she was a reformed alcoholic.  I also know that she has a problem with hydrocodone — as in addiction.  And that she has a history of psychiatric illness, for which she was hospitalized within the past year.

About a year ago, her adult son died of a drug overdose, and that pushed her over the edge.  Although her husband tried valiantly to stay by her side and be supportive — tried as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen — within months, she had destroyed her marriage, severed her relationship with her mother, and moved to a trailer in Andersonville where she now lives, bitter and alone with the demons in her mind.

So, the postings about Ashley Paine, about a school board member drinking beer and making decisions about school transportation (though these never occurred at the same time, mind you) weren’t really about Ashley… or even about me.  It was about a mother who allowed or ignored her son’s drug use, possibly because of her own, mourning his death.

I cannot begin to imagine the sadness of losing a child.  Worse, of knowing that her own habits may have encouraged his use of the substance that killed him. 

Why am I her target?  I’m not really sure.  My friend, her ex-husband, told me that she had always been jealous of me, and she referred to such in an e-mail that she sent near the beginning of this mess on the Oak Ridger forum.  But I am the most happily married woman I know, and though my friend is my friend (he’s my husband’s friend too, BTW), I’m definitely not looking for any extra curricular activity. 

My best guess as to the reasoning is this: the holidays are a hard time to be alone, and she was spoiling for a fight with the good man that she left in her madness.  Thus, she chose to attack me, knowing that his first response would be to respond to her.  He did not, only because I made him promise not to.  You see, the only way to make it go away is to ignore it; if she gets what she wants — attention, even negative attention — then she will continue to harass his friends.

So now you know the story behind Boater.  Rest assured, I’m not losing any sleep over it, but I do pray for her to find peace in this life.  It must be so hard to be so unhappy, when all around, others are celebrating.

If you’re loved, if you have food for today and warmth against the cold outside, feel good.  We make our own attitudes, and I choose for mine to be one of joy.

6 Responses to “‘Tis the Season”

  1. on 18 Dec 2008 at 10:29 am Bell

    Well said, NM… you rock.

  2. on 18 Dec 2008 at 10:43 am Joel

    Dang. Sounds like character development in a Russian novel.

  3. on 18 Dec 2008 at 12:13 pm Joel

    Make that Faulkner.

  4. on 18 Dec 2008 at 3:13 pm Punk HP

    Sounds like “The Grinch meets The Shining” to me.

  5. on 18 Dec 2008 at 10:49 pm Mike

    You are so compassionate and even more undeserving of her scorn. I am not sure I could have your attitude; just more proof how caring a person you are. I am very sad about [her loss] but that gives her no right to say the things she has said about my friend.

    Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.

  6. on 19 Dec 2008 at 10:15 am Babble

    You are so right in saying that some people fail to appreciate the good things that they have in life.

    I am very thankful for the good friends that I have.

    NM (and all) – Merry Christmas to you and yours this season… BTW, the Wii parties continue!! 😉

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