It’s very early on Christmas morning as I head back toward my family and the upcoming festivities. The highway is dark and cold but not lonely at all. I’m filled with peace and love after such a wonderful evening spent in Goose’s life. Even now as I’m traveling back into the present of my life. Back to the ex-husband who will drop off our son to share the rest of the holiday with me. And the adult children who were once understanding and supportive of my separating from their step dad, who are now very loyal and caring for him. Traveling back to pick up the pieces of my once seemingly content life. I don’t feel the usual tension returning. I have Christmas Joy filling my heart this morning as the sun rises bit by bit.
My daughter’s home is lit with the Christmas tree and her big boxer dog is peering out between the curtains as he watches me come toward the door. I can’t see his tail end from the sidewalk, but I know it’s wildly swinging from side to side. With my hand on the doorknob, I hear his large elephant paws on the other side of the door along with the excited high pitched shriek of my 5-year-old granddaughter, “Grammmmaaaa!” The door opens to Christmas New.
Christmas Old was filled with constancies. The traditions, the same-ness, the expected. The people, foods, ambiance, and love. But now in Christmas New.. there are only hints of tradition, same-ness and the expected. My daughter is planning the same foods as Christmas Brunch has always been… but she is making it all this year. The place is different… so the decorations that have graced our holidays for years are not present, and new ones have taken their place.
My son-in-law unloads the presents and carmel rolls from my car, as my ex arrives with our son. There is an air of apprehension mixed with the 20 degree temperatures outside. The wind is still and crisp. My 9-year-old enters into the livingroom and greets me with a hug and a “Merry Christmas Mom.” My ex did the same, without the hug. Soon the children break the tension with their anticipation of the gifts waiting under the tree. Fortunately, their lack of patience has broken the path to a familiar place as we all gather to open presents. My ex in his uncertainty and sadness began walking to the door, when I interrupted his step and asked him to join us. This is Christmas and my heart is filled with peace and love. There have been so many changes for us all. So much confusion and sadness involved as a family divorces. My invitation allowed a collective sigh of relief from every person in the room. Now Christmas New has begun even in this changing family.
The children pass out packages and the scent of carmel and cinnamon and hot black coffee drift in from the kitchen. There are smiles and laughter as packages are opened. Ribbons and colored paper are accumulating on the floor. The big boxer dog with his clumsy elephant paws chases everything that moves. Our family is finally on its way from old to new.
As the morning passes, the packages now opened. And the breakfast eaten. The papers and ribbons gathered. The children are playing with their new presents. It’s then my ex and I share a momentary glance filled with gratitude for this morning, memories of holidays past, and sorrow for dreams not achieved. I can feel the sting of tears welling up in my eyes. But my granddaughter interrupts their flow with excitement over a puzzle she has opened. She requests my help. Puzzles are not my forte, but I’m grateful for the snuggles with her all the same. I have to say, it’s the children who have made this Christmas. They have all they need. They have the people they love surrounding them. Nothing else really matters.