Day Of The Black Dog
I want so much to be thankful. I have more things to be thankful for than I could shake a stick at.
But I am afraid that my Black Dog is rearing his head and issuing a throaty bark.
Counting blessings is easy, and when you have a black dog a lot of times blessings counting serves as a form of whistling past the graveyard. "I can't be down, because I have a freezer full of meat!!!"
I've found that saying the sad things outloud is sometimes better. It's a way of shouting back at the dog, of barking more loudly than he. It's also a way to let people know your humanity and show that all humanity is the same on one level. So why is my black dog howling? What is making him claw at the gates?
Well, for starters, it's the start of The Holidays. Yes, I say "Christmas" when I'm talking specifically of that holiday, but for me the season of the bark starts with Thanksgiving and runs through January 6th. It's my favourite time of year on one level, but on another level it is the time of greatest pain.
I love the holidays, and I love big gatherings of family. Yet here I am, 450 miles from the closest non-spousal family I have. While others are meeting for lovely brunches and Christmas tree shopping with loved ones, I get to hear about it a week later over the telephone. I also get to pretend that buying gifts for my dogs is the same thrilling activity as buying presents for my human children. Have you ever seen a dog's face light up when they unwrap a chew toy? Not the same thing, I think.
In my mind I've idealised Holidays as a sort of Hallmark wonderworld with bright lights and hugs and cake, and then placed myself squarely outside it all. I tend to forget that every holiday in Real Space involves arguments over logistics, worries about money and the stress of ill health. I never humanise any Holiday until it's too late.
So there you have it. The source of my black dog. Maybe now he'll stop with the yowling.