It’s all the rage these days, feeling seen. And for good reason, not sure why it took this long to be a thing, actually seeing people for who they are and not just who we want to see. If you Google “I feel seen” the first page of links doesn’t even go beyond 2019. Anyway.
I’ve felt seen at least twice this week. The first time, I was shoveling what can only be described as adult mac ’n cheese (with cauliflower and broccoli and kale and bacon and everything) into my mouth. You know the scene in the Lion King when Simba looks into the water and sees Mufasa in his reflection right after Rafiki says, look haaaaarder? I didn’t even have to look harder. As soon as I cleared enough from the plate to see a grumpy looking rockhopper (possibly macaroni, you guys there’s like 18 species) penguin wearing a dapper holiday sweater holding a snow globe encapsulating a tiny A-frame in a forest, it was like looking into a mirror. OoOoo, classy vibe, though you definitely get the feeling he likes party, sometimes even brings it, but like, he’s got his shit together enough to put on a nice sweater when it’s time. He plays the game, the game don’t play him. He shows up. A little rough and disgruntled externally, but just a big softie at his core. I don’t know why I assume he is a he, but he definitely is. Also, this is me as a gay man.
The second time, I was sitting on the couch with my old holiday pal, Hallmark. Oooooweee have you come a long way since I called you out in Hallmark Holiday for One, Please. Not only have you (slightly) expanded your reach beyond straight white people, you’ve also made an actual effort to portray not having kids and marriage as a respectable choice!
Self-sufficient women with fulfilling careers; optometrists, architects, tech startup-ers, financial planners, photographers, writers. SO many writers, all of us trying something new, looking for just the right angle. Some never married, some married before, didn’t work out for a smorgasbord of totally normal reasons, because life happens, and some still happily married. Just a bunch of women, chugging along on their chosen life paths, not all bent out of shape because they haven’t found THE ONE. I mean, yeah it happens at the end anyway, cuz Hallmark.
These are some badass leading ladies. Even their folks have more alternative lifestyles. Like, they aren’t simply living for their kids to come home for the holidays. I feel obligated to also note the solid mix of single dads looking (or not) to start again, and basic bachelors of all varieties with trouble “letting people in,” not just the nauseating romantics, who for some reason someone with a pen, or at least the pen in power, thinks we all want.
Sidenote: I waffled between pen in power and top pen. Ultimately and obviously went with pen in power, but I DID think about switching to Top Pen, written just like that, but decided to tell you about my dilemma instead of actually choosing. Going for the win-win these days.
One of my favorites this year, The Holiday Sitter, even nails how families can still love each other and get along, but choose NOT to spend the holidays together because they are all very different people and everyone is cool doing their own thing and they sort of just respect each other’s choices. Ain’t that novel.
Divorced parents, mom is holidaying in Italy, dad in his remote cabin in the woods, domesticated-averse gay brother in NYC trying to jet off to Hawaii, witty sister in the suburbs about to adopt a third child. This same movie ALSO highlights the other end of the spectrum, with the sister’s hottie neighbor (spoiler alert, the gays get together) who recently moved in across the street from his mom because he couldn’t find a decent dude in Los Angeles who wanted to start a family, and ALL seven of his siblings come home for the holidays. Balance.
And sure, “everyone” wants a “happy” ending (did I use those quotes right?)…But we also want it to feel like it could happen to us, not that it ever would, but like, it couuuuuld. What I am saying is, A Royal Christmas is a far reach. And we’re probably not going to hit our head and get to relive the exact date with the the same dude 12 times until we stop fucking it up…wait. That’s actually a semi-solid possibility (without (?) the concussion (?!)).**
But we could have to travel from here to there with a hot guy also stranded in a winter snowstorm. Or be accidentally double booked in the same cozy cabin for the holidays with another hottie and his daughter. And later, his mom. Or come home for a holiday high school reunion and fall in love with the class clown turned super charming hometown hottie.
What goes without saying is everyone is hot. Except I did say it, and a lot, because it’s true and something you should know in case that’s your line. People draw all sorts of lines these days, and I respect that. But yeah, just hot people everywhere. Who say things like, “maybe it’s easy to find a reason to run if there’s not a reason to stay,” and, “I’m gonna find my happily ever after, even if it’s on my own,” and “if this were a romcom, there’d only be one room available at the inn.” Turns out, there WAS only one room available at the inn, because it was indeed, a romcom.
Basically, Hallmark did its research on modern life and diversified their content.
Admittedly, I have not watched them all. Or that many. Or even the full two hours of any of them. It’s always on in the background, but technically I have a job. And a dog. And the attention of a kitten on crack. But the leading roles and basic story lines seem much more relatable (less annoying) than I remember? Or at the very least haven’t made me dry vomit in my mouth, and that’s my kind of progress.
And they keep getting better and better. Mostly because I only catch them in 15-30 minute increments, whenever I dedicate time to the couch, so I’m constantly learning new tidbits tying the story together. Hallmark keeps a tight schedule and if I start watching a show at 8 that started at 7, I might be able to catch the first hour at 3AM five days later, and I am just not that dedicated. Very rarely do I see the beginning or the end, most often it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s pretty entertaining to try to make sense of the story lines, I’ve missed some key pieces, drawn some strange conclusions, just to have the Aha! moment weeks later when I happen to catch a different chunk of it on the cycle. All this to say, I’m no expert here.
But I DID contemplate setting an alarm for 1AM, this Friday morning. I felt…intrigued by the lead in Christmas Getaway. An independent, adventurous travel writer, the kind of person with bags always packed, who says yes to everything, with lines like:
- Hey did I ever tell you about the Christmas tradition of the German pickle? (When her boss brings up a “traditional” Christmas.)
- Uh nope, it’s just me. (When showing up…anywhere in response to, “is the other half of your party with you?”)
- Please, I’ve motorcycled through the Andes, I can handle this. (When responding to a kid who asks if it’s safe to drive in THIS weather)
- Ugh fine, the kid card wins. (When people with kids point out, but we have kids.)
Honestly a little cringe hearing similar shit I’ve probably said sometime to someone come out of her mouth…yet I still wanted to hear more. Like I said, I felt seen. Me. A minority in historical Hallmark life choices. Rejoice.
And then I fell asleep during a commercial for The Dog Lovers Guide to Dating, airing on New Years Day.
Well done, Hallmark.
As for me and my Hallmark moment, I had last minute dreams of driving down to Key West with the dog for no real reason but to go. But in true tosh fashion, I didn’t plan a single thing and when news of an impending 100 YEAR STORM with whipping winds, snow tornadoes and subzero temps basically everywhere, even Alabama, I took it as a sign I was probably manifesting anyway, and gave up my road trip. Which really only meant making the mental switch. Which is why No Plan is the best plan AND the worst plan. Flexible. So flexible sometimes, it just disappears. Or postpones itself until January.
Time will tell.
So now I’m home. Alone. With Fred. And absolutely zero complaints. Here’s to you and here’s to me, finding our own holiday happiness wherever we are.
Hopefully doing exactly what we want.
**Yes, my punctuation is like using math with words. Basically the e e cummings of prose. You’ll figure it out. Also, it’s not that important, it’s more for me than you. Laughing face emoji?
3 thoughts on “I feel seen”
Hello my intrepid and seen friend –
Your mention of that dapper penguin reminded me of a rather enchanting little news clip from the BBC which I hope you’ll be able to access – I’m really tech-stupid, and it may be that the BBC won’t allow viewing by anyone without a UK television license, but here’s hoping: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-gloucestershire-64053089 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-gloucestershire-64053089.
I spent Christmas with my rescue cat Madison Mineola Madrigal Rennebohm Flicker (I was really homesick for Wisconsin when I got her), aka Maddie or The Mads. She was really small when I adopted her, so I gave her lots of names, to big her up.
From Maddie and me to you and Fred –
hoping for better things in 2023. And LOTS of fairy lights.
Liberal use of (maybe?) inappropriate punctuation provides voice. I like it. Despite what English majors may say. Happiest of holidays to you.
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Oh, definitely agree! I can come off as a foreign language in that voice sometimes. Luckily I was an English AND Journalism major, so basically I can do what I want? That’s what I tell myself anyway 😉 Merry merry to you!