All day long I had a huge plan to write this super fabulous “Ghost of Christmas Past” blog regarding the first Christmas Eve I spent alone without the kids (six years ago). It was going to be a tear-jerker, ’cuz that was a memory that I’ll never forget. I figured that even though a bunch of it would be a bummer to read, it would hold some truth for those parents who are going it alone this Christmas because of a divorce decree and custody arrangement. The memory included getting drunk by myself, crying for hours, and feeling self-pity; I was going to conclude the piece with a serious reflection on how I’m glad I went through that crap because the Ghost of Christmas Future showed me a much better way. Blah, blah, blah…
That’s what I was going to do.
But then, I stepped outside to view the beautiful calm snow covering the trees tonight at 10:45 p.m. on Christmas.
And now, I’m just like: WOW.
I spent today by myself while the kids were at their dad’s. I was a slug. My day included a marathon viewing of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad on my new 50” T.V. that the kids bought for me. I ate nearly an entire pumpkin pie and drank several mimosas. I napped about 5 times, took a hot bubble bath and licked up the remainder of the pumpkin pie scraps. I continued to formulate in my mind the brilliant Ebenezer Scrooge-themed writing piece.
But this wintery Ansel Adams view just knocked all of that out of the water. I’m speechless.
Well, not speechless, because that can never happen in my lifetime. I like to talk and write too much. I have a flip-top head and words are my idol.
So let’s just say the following:
After several years of working on this whole amicable-divorce-and-getting-along-with-your-ex-thing, I’ve finally arrived.
Last night on Christmas Eve, I spent an enjoyable and entertaining evening with Devon’s family, including my kids, Felipe, Devon’s mom and dad, his brother and sister and their kids. In the past, I would have put on a good show and at times would have suffered a bit through it.
But not this year. This year seemed a bit different. More sincere. I can’t quite pin-point the reasons, but I suppose that beating cancer, dealing with a breakup of a long-term relationship and generally being happy with where my life is going probably helps. I have a job that I love, a great house in a cool neighborhood, and I get to write all the time. My cat is awesome, my kids are cool, and the bacon shortage they were predicting earlier in the fall was a farce.
Last night was amazing getting to hang out and laugh, gorge, swap 15 years worth of familial stories and listen to Devon sing cheesy karaoke songs, all the while being comfortable with my now non-traditional rainbow family. I never would have thought it possible that first Christmas Eve alone, but here I am.
And here I am right now, sitting on my front porch, nearly freezing my butt off, writing this and looking at the most peaceful and beautiful holiday scene. If I had stayed in my bitterness, fought Devon tooth and nail, maybe even tried to move back to Iowa with the kids, I wouldn’t be typing this. My life is wonderful. My relationship with Devon is special, my respect for Felipe immense, and my children are blessed to be able to spend Christmas with all of us together.
The kids would say that they love having two Christmases, I’m sure.
This morning at 9 a.m., Devon and Felipe came over for breakfast. The plan was to eat and then take the kids to their house right after we finished. Instead, they showed up with the huge T.V. Felipe and Devon set it up (Devon even organized my videos, mess of cords and book shelf), we ate and reminisced a bit, opened presents and we all loved on each other. Not only did I get a new tele out of the deal and an organized entertainment area, I got to have our whole family under one roof for a few hours two days in a row. That wasn’t just meaningful for me, it really meant something to the kids. The security they have in the fact that we have come this far is amazing to me.
And yeah, I got to spend some time relaxing by myself. Instead of tears in my wine like six years ago, I reflected on this amazing ride I’ve had. I don’t want to be so trite as to say things happen for a reason, but things can work out if you concentrate on the good in life instead of staying stuck in Christmas Past. I’ve never been accused of being a Scrooge, but I think we all have choices we can make about how to handle the situations we find ourselves in. Remember the Past, but be in the Present, and expect a positive Future. You’ll find it.
Happy Holidays to all of our readers and families out there. May you be blessed in the Present and have hope for your Future. Oh, and try to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
Emily and Devon Reese