I had grand plans for today to mix it up. After a string of more serious, pensive posts, my intention was to be silly this morning. To talk about our Christmas tree and our girls and their deliciously amateur decorating skills. You see, our girls worked very hard to dress one single branch of our vast Frasier Fir with about two dozen ornaments. Now that lucky branch - and its collection of "Christmas balls" - is dragging on the wood floor.
I also planned to talk about Husband, my strong and handsome man, who somehow managed to blow out his eardrum. He is on the mend now thanks to a cocktail of drops and antibiotics. In this post, I was going to be very clever and call Husband Little Drummer Boy. It would have been a funny post. I think you would have liked it.
But. That's not today's post. I can't force it. I have to write about something else. Because that something else rattled about in my head all night long. I literally didn't sleep because I was thinking about that something else.
That something else? I forgot my niece's birthday. It was on Sunday. And I totally forgot it. Didn't call. Didn't send a gift. My niece is now four. As I am sure you remember, birthdays matter at that age. They are magical and majestic days. And I forgot her day. I didn't even remember it yesterday. No, I had to get a phone call from Mom telling me that I missed it and telling me that my sister was rightfully very upset.
When I first realized that I forgot her birthday, I felt a stabbing surge of guilt. Immediately, I attempted to assuage that guilt by coming up with a string of excuses. I told myself that I was not the only one who forgot to call (which was true). I told myself that my niece lives in Chicago and so there wasn't the same day-to-day chatter about parties and presents as there would have been if she lived here (which was true). I told myself that on her birthday I was tending to a feverish Toddler and in bed myself with a fever (which was true). I told myself that this is an exceedingly busy time of year (which is true). I told myself that my forgetting was in no way emblematic of how I feel about my sister or her little girl. (Again true.)
I decorated myself with excuses.
And then I called my sister. I emailed her too. I stumbled through a ceaseless and clumsy apology. She assured me that my niece is young and that she didn't notice the lack of calls, that she will not remember this. My sister told me that she was the one who was sad about this. That she would get past it, of course, but that she was sad.
And as the night wore on, my own guilt evolved into old school sadness. A sadness that kept me up all night and brought me to this computer screen at 4:45am.
I am not writing this to ask my sister for forgiveness. Frankly, I am not sure if she reads this blog. I am not writing this to ask you for forgiveness. Frankly, I am not sure that is yours to give.
I am writing this to ask myself for forgiveness. For being totally flawed and totally fallible. For being so wrapped up in my own little words and my own little world, for being so fixated on the single branch of my own existence, that I missed a little girl's big day.
Have you ever forgotten someone's big day? Have you forgiven yourself? Are you able to forgive yourself easily?