|I am finally home!|
From the lights and decorations, right down to the last minute shopping and incessant holiday music... I. Love. Christmas.
As a child, my family did an amazing job of making the season magical. I fondly remember over-the-top decorations, holiday parties at the house, friends and family visiting throughout the season and, of course, more presents than any little boy could ever want.
As the years passed, family members died. First my uncle Jeffrey passed away. He was the holiday decorator, mostly because he was gay and the gays are really good at holiday decorating.
What? You KNOW its true.
We all grew up and the holiday parties waned, as did the emphasis placed on Christmas. When my grandpa passed, Nana downsized the holiday season and most of us were left to create our own memories.
Yet, I still held on to Christmas past.
I recently confided in The Girlfriend that Nana’s death and the sale of my childhood home marked a turning-point for me. All of my memories, not just of Christmas, but of so many life events, have taken their rightful place inside my head and that it is now my job to create the memories that my boys will one day cherish. In the end, memories are all we have left to hold on to.
My divorce threw a monkey wrench into consistency and regularity, the essential ingredients of tradition and memory.
For a whole host of reasons, I have yet to feel that sense of “home” and “family” during the holiday season.
That is, until now.
I think that our Thanksgiving trip to Canada sealed the deal for me. There is something so comforting about being with friends and family, no matter what the occasion, and our trip is sure to become the first of many traditions that I will give my children.
Consistency. Regularity. Tradition. Memories.
I should have fought harder to have a bi-yearly Christmas with my boys, the way I have them for every other “major” holiday. After all, “every other year” is better than none at all. In the end, however, plagued by the unwarranted guilt of leaving my marriage, spurred by residual abandonment issues from my own childhood, I caved. As a result, I will never spend Christmas Eve with my boys. Instead, I am to have them every Christmas day, for 24 hours, beginning at noon.
Unfortunately, in the years following my separation and subsequent divorce, Christmas has been anything but consistent for my boys and this will be the first year that I will have them in my home, on Christmas Day, the way it is outlined in my final divorce agreement. It is not without bending, however. I offered to take them at 4pm, instead of noon, so that they won’t be rushed away from Christmas in their “other” home.
However, like nearly every other holiday that I share with them, it was not without a fight.
Last year I made the mistake of caving over Christmas and agreed to take them on the 26th, to accommodate their mother’s plans. When I was asked to accommodate in kind again this year (supposedly in the interest of the children), I refused.
My children have one family and two homes. This is why custody agreements are drafted. This is why special arrangements are made for holidays.
Consistency. Regularity. Tradition. Memories. Sanity.
I have been made to believe that the issue over Christmas (just like Easter, Thanksgiving, and countless other holidays) was squarely the concern of my boys. Concern over having to be away from “home” during certain holidays.
I half expected Lu-Dog to try and lobby for changing this year’s schedule when I saw him this weekend, at least that was what I was told would happen.
I was prepared for the conversation... prepared to explain to him that he has two homes... prepared to explain to him that The Girlfriend and I and all of OUR loved ones are part of his family too.
I was prepared to do whatever it takes to make him comfortable this holiday season.
To my surprise, the conversation never happened.
Sure, we spoke a LOT about Christmas, but it was clear that he KNEW the schedule and had absolutely no reservations.
For example, I warned the boys that they would be getting a lot of Lego sets this year, to add to our growing Lego City.
“How long will I be at your house on Christmas Day dad?”
“24 hours, Lu-Dog.”
“What time are we coming over?”
“Can we open our presents right away?”
“Of course, but we’re having Christmas dinner right after.”
“Well, then, we’re going to have to start building RIGHT after dinner,” he said.
“We can stay up all night and play Legos if you want, pal,” I said with a smile. “After all, it IS Christmas, right?”
We had scores of conversations like this one and none of them gave me an indication that he or his brother had any concern about our holiday schedule. In fact, they both seem genuinely excited about the prospect of coming to OUR “home” on Christmas Day.
What kid wouldn’t? I mean, TWO Christmas celebrations? Two sets of gifts? Two Christmas meals? Two visits from Santa?
Who’s fooling who here?
Needless to say, I’m excited about having the boys with us on Christmas Day, the way it is supposed to be... and the way it will be for many years to come. It is, in so many ways, the final piece of the holiday puzzle.
This year, like last, The Girlfriend and I are spending Christmas Eve at the home of some very close friends. For the first time, we are sending out Christmas cards as a family. Hell, we have even planned our first annual holiday party... a small, pre-Christmas gathering of close friends.
It took a while I suppose, but, for the first time, I feel like I am home, surrounded by people that I love...
That magical feeling of home.
Just like when I was a kid.