If you were to ask me how I feel about the holidays, I wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s honestly a love-hate relationship at its finest. Years ago, I too would’ve swooned at the thought of changing leaves, chilly weather that required the wrapping of scarves and the rolling in warm blankets. But life has changed drastically since that time. My parents got a divorce that took a lot out of me mentally and emotionally. I assisted my wife in the fighting of cancer for the first two years of our marriage. And there were so many other internal stir-abouts that I was continually struggling with that were pushed to the back-burner.
Every year we begin planning our holiday season with whose houses we are going to first? Though this is always a no-brainer because my family is no longer on time and does not plan properly. This year my wife’s family came in from Florida, Missouri & Arizona. It’s the first time in a while that they’ve all been in one place together for the holidays. It was indeed fun for the first couple of days and then of course with any family time, the charm begins to wear off and you’re longing to be back to normal again. Entertaining guests is such a monster of its own, especially when 24 people are involved. But anymore, I look forward to spending more time with my in-laws than with my own family.
It breaks my heart to see those words materialize but it’s the truth. I called my mom to ask what they’re plans were? She said they were on their way to eat and then try to leave and go shopping for the early Black Friday sales by four o’clock. Well, what you should know is that it was already ten minutes after two when I called. So naturally, I wasn’t going to drive 40 minutes from my in-laws to my mom’s house to rush through a meal that should be savored and enjoyed. So I suggested that we come by on Friday after they were done shopping and just heat up the leftovers and have a more personal Thanksgiving that didn’t require speed eating.
My wife and I arrived a little after three-thirty to my mom’s house. We walk up the blue steps to the front porch, knock on the door and hear it unlock. There is no one behind it but there is soapy residue left behind on the doorknob and we are greeted by no one. No warm hugs and kisses, nor the warm aroma of turkey and spices that I encountered yesterday morning. Moments later, my mom proceeds to walk down the hallway in her pajamas with a blanket in hand. She walks over to the couch, which I presume is where she plans take residence. She drops off the blanket and comes over to give us a hug, and at this very moment I was screaming on the inside. In that moment, I felt like an abandoned child in a shopping cart waiting for someone to pick me up and save me from the hurt of neglect I was feeling. In that moment I wanted to be anywhere else but “home”. She proceeded to tell me that they didn’t get back in from shopping until 2 a.m. Meanwhile here comes my sister down the hall in a similar get-up and the same complacency as if we didn’t take a four and a half hour trip to spend the holiday with them.
I walked in to the kitchen to see that yesterday’s leftovers were set out on top of the stove but they were lacking warmth. Well, that’s because it was cold. Any-who, I asked. “Where is Christopher?.” (my brother) And he was with my dad, which is the typical because my mom can only handle my dad in small doses because he cheated on her. So eight years later, we still haven’t learned how to be civil for the sake of our kids.
We sat in the living room with many awkward silences and nothing really to discuss. My mom, sister and now my brother are all on some form of antidepressant. This has been a slow downward spiral over the last several of years. And my tear ducts have run dry over the severity of changes my family has gone through in what seems to be such a short period of time.
I’m continually falling to my knees in my prayer over these circumstances and I can’t always say that I come to God with the most sincerity. I find my flesh to be doubting whether or not he’s working in their hearts anymore. I know that sounds awful but I give you truth. I don’t know how to be a disciple to them anymore. I don’t know how to save them. And there is never a day that goes by where I don’t question their eternal fate and how I will have played a role in it.