This Christmas is not about the gifts (but the diamond-studded Mickey Mouse watch I got certainly was worth waiting for!!!), but about the Christmases that Dean and I both missed out on coming true as we watch our children experience the holiday.
See, both of us growing up were in extremely dysfunctional families. The biggest memory of Christmas I have is my stepdad locking himself in his room Christmas Eve threatening to kill himself if we didn’t go to church with him in the morning. My mom took me aside for a marriage counseling session (I was 15) and proceeded to tell me how he was ruining her life and what should she do? Dean’s Christmas memories mostly stem from his Dad being drunk and beating them with a leather belt, and his Mom being too tired to really care about anything.
When we got married (almost 15 years ago), we made a pledge that this horrible stuff would not follow us; that we would break the chain of dysfunction. And for the most part, we really have. We have a fantastic marriage – that didn’t just *happen*, we had to WORK and WORK at it. Our kids are happy and healthy and growing up to be fantastic human beings. And we work tremendously well as a family unit.
I guess I’m just so thankful, so, so, thankful, that my family is my joy. That my family is not something to be dreaded, or to be avoided. I’m so grateful that on this Christmas day, we are not hiding from each other, we’re not yelling at each other, we’re not drinking ourselves into oblivion. We just…are.
I’m so in love with my husband that when I look at him, my heart literally constricts with happiness. I get teary-eyed constantly when I watch my children playing or just sitting there – not just on Christmas day. This might sound shmaltzy and I DON’T CARE! This is something I’ve wanted since I was 13 years old and I prayed to God that my future family wouldn’t be the sick drama that I had to deal with every day. I prayed that my marriage would be like my Nana and Papa’s, who were married 53 years when my Papa passed away in the arms of his beloved bride. I prayed that life wouldn’t be about fighting and drama and ugliness – that we would all find joy and happiness in each other, and if that sounds silly, I don’t care. I’m the one who actually got my prayers answered.
Today I’m thinking also of the suddenly single parents I know from this past year – Kelly, who is alone with three children today, and Kathy, whose husband left her for another woman. My heart aches for them even as I hug my husband. Life is so fleeting, so precious – you never know what’s coming around the bend.
Gosh, I’m rambling. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m so incredibly grateful for my family. And this year, I want to live each moment fully, always mindful that the time goes so fast. Too fast.