This year Christmas was different. Different than it has been for nearly 20 years. I was not invited to my ex-husband’s parents’ home to celebrate the day. In fact, there was no discussion. Simply a text that asked if taking the boys at noon and returning them later that evening would be an acceptable plan. And that was how I came to find out I was not welcome. Texts from my mother-in-law voicing I was in their thoughts didn’t quite make me feel any better. As they did not express any consideration either. I will say my parents have and continue to let my ex-husband know he is always welcome to a family gathering even if to just stop by and say hi to family members he no longer sees. But…he never does.
I thought I was okay. I had time to mentally prepare myself for the day. And truthfully I was with my boys, the most important part of the day, all morning. But when my house fell silent and the emptiness started to invade me, I made a last minute decision to go to my brothers. He and his in-laws had already expressed a desire for me to join them. In fact they somewhat pleaded this case. And with all their sweet intentions and definitely heartfelt words, there was a feeling of pity splattered on top that never sits well with me. The last thing I want is pity. I overlooked this and headed north just the same.
I was greeted by my sweet nieces taking me by the hand and excitedly showing me all that Santa left that morning. Their hugs were medicinal. My brother and his wife have a simple way of exuding love. It lacks any unnecessary negativity, stress, and certainly is never pretentious. As a result, my mood was stable and I felt fairly balanced…until I returned home.
I couldn’t deny the excitement of my boys, particularly T. He was floating on air, bouncing, happy. And I did all that I could do to try and smile. When my ex-husband asked what I did, as I knew he would, I reluctantly told him. In his mind I had a good day, I did something and was with family. “That’s great!” Oh, how I wanted to scream and cry and curse right then. It wasn’t until I lay in my bed all tucked in under my covers later that night that I cried. A release in many ways I was not expecting. I woke to swollen eyes that caught co-workers attention. I felt so vulnerable and exposed.
So yes, another Christmas passed by..this one less extravagant than ones prior. I have no amazing stories of the day. I have no report of any epiphanies realized. I only have a shift. Another shift. Hesitantly looking forward to the new year, I remain bruised.