I’m back and I am determined that this is going to be a great year. I’m not sure what plan I’m going to put into place to make sure that happens, but surely, I can come up with SOMETHING. I know that the past, say 20 years, contradict my ability to do such a thing, but THIS IS MY YEAR. I just know it. And if it isn’t, well then ignorance is bliss.
Christmas was its usual combination of anxiety and joy. Highs and lows. Knowns and unknowns.
The Ex continued to call and text throughout the weekend before Christmas, but I continued to dodge him. The only problem with that was his unknown plans with the kids for the holidays. We proceeded with the assumption that he was going to keep them during his awarded hours and we planned our Christmas to begin when the boys returned at 6pm on Christmas Day. Even though they were supposed to spend the night Christmas Eve, we didn’t want to rush. We wanted to follow traditions…pajamas as gifts from mom at night and Santa gifts the next morning. (I’m an Aggie, remember? I love tradition.)
He was late picking them up on Christmas Eve, even after he called to make sure that they were going to be ready at noon sharp. We sat on the couch waiting. I was a bundle of nerves…wondering if there would be gifts. Wondering what trouble The Ex had gotten himself into. Wondering what awaited my boys. The hour-long wait prolonged my anxiety, I mean, curiosity.
After he finally arrived, I left for the grocery store to get some things that I needed for Christmas dinner and cookies. He called. Twice in one week. After months of no contact. You guessed it. One last attempt for money. Not for gifts but for a little bit of cash to feed the boys during the next two days.
Perhaps I am naive. Perhaps I was feeling the generosity of the season. Perhaps I was just worn down and thankful that he was asking for a small amount of money. I agreed. I got “cash back” on my purchase of corn syrup and baking powder and he met me in the parking lot. It is all so pathetic on so many weekends. My ability to be a hard-ass is slightly limited.
I went on about my holiday baking and dinner with friends. I was surprised when the boys were returned promptly at 8pm. He didn’t want to pick them up at 8am as allowed, but that didn’t really surprise me. I was surprised, however, and I don’t know why, when he picked them up almost two hours after his agreed-upon time. As we all sat there waiting on Christmas morning with no sign of Christmas, no magic, we were sullen. If I had known, Santa could have delivered his gifts on time. Naively, though, I thought that he would make an attempt to provide a Christmas for them. Not necessarily in gifts, but in love and in magic.
I was angry. The looks on their faces. The disappointment that the world was having Christmas and we were sitting on the couch with nothing. We scrapped our original plan and decided to celebrate Christmas as soon as they returned that evening. I would place their pajamas in the front room and they would change and run into the living room as if it was Christmas morning.
Excitement returned. We had something to look forward to. The magic was back.
When The Ex finally arrived, he mentioned that he might be late returning them because he was taking them to his uncle’s house for Christmas dinner. I was suddenly caught between a rock and a hard place. I love my ex-husband’s family. I miss them. Visiting his uncle during the holidays was something that we used to do as a family. I want my boys to have that. I know that his uncle’s health has deteriorated. I know the value of family.
I want to work with my ex. As I mentioned in prior posts, I worry about the state of his relationship with the boys. I worry for them and for him. I want him to feel peace and be part of their lives during the holidays. I want to say okay.
On the other hand, I am SO angry. Why had he not made more effort to bond with them over Christmas? Why couldn’t he even be on time? We were stripped of our usual Christmas traditions and he couldn’t make more of an effort? We had just decided to alter our plans and now I was forced to choose when he was finally trying to do the right thing. I told him that we were planning to have Christmas that night. He was disappointed and I felt guilty, I felt like the bad guy.
See what I mean? Ups and downs. All in the course of two days. Or twenty years. It depends on how you look at it.
The boys returned that night almost an hour late and close to the hour that my nerves were sure to crack. They changed into their pajamas and rushed into the living room to see the Santa loot.
I’m not going to lie. I overdid it this year. I tortured myself about it more than a few times. I justified it that we had a tough year…mono, eviction, court, arguments, uncertainties, so on and etc. I’m over it, though. It doesn’t matter to me why I was compelled to do it. They were surprised. They were happy. They were appreciative. And I know that they would have been no matter what was waiting for them under the tree. They were home and we were together and my mom and sister and her kids were there and we were happy.
Happiness. It’s the greatest luxury during and after a high-conflict divorce.
With all of the heartache and scars and responsibilities, it’s sometimes a struggle to find it and then to hold on to it. So for a while, I will hold onto the memory of Christmas night when we found it.
Here’s to the New Year! May we all find happiness and hold on to it!