I wanted to share this with you. The you that struggles on the holidays; the "happiest time of year"... Not everyone will be happy I posted this. In fact, someone will for sure be pissed off that the optics of our family aren't perfect.
I wanted to share it because in a few days, everyone is going to post pictures of their perfect Christmases. The dinners, the games, the activities, the presents. I will too. In fact, I'm going to try to post some of my favorites today. I want to share the beautiful moments, but I also want you to know that beyond the pictures... beyond everyone's pictures... it's not always beautiful. There is struggle and chaos and emotions and feelings, and that, my friends, is called being a REAL HUMAN.
Today, my kids and their partners along with my mother in law, are currently stuck in a city they don't want to be in, waiting to get home with grounded planes ruining their plans. Believe me, no one is happy about it. It was a very late night that turned into a very early morning and huge bill that I am sure no one could afford. The airport is crowded with miserable people, all stuck in the same predicament, either trying to go home, or leave home. The snow has just stopped now, and temp has come up a bit. The sun has pushed through, and maybe, just maybe, it might be a sign of good news. Or maybe not. Some situations seem to be tricky tricksters after all.
Let back up for a second. Our family "celebrates" Christmas a week before everyone else. The kids all come to our house for a few days, and we plan some things, and eat the food, and exchange the gifts. Then we post the pictures we like...
Ay... there's the rub. The season affords us both the pictures (memories) we like, and the ones we don't.
Our Christmas is never all rainbows and pixie sticks. Someone told me this year, "I can't wait to hear about your weekend - I have been imagining a real Hallmark Christmas Movie all weekend!" After all, we had been planning it for weeks! And then I laughed, and I laughed... Oh - but it was! It had a great start, and a tumultuous middle, you know, where the characters struggle, then some sort of resolution? I'm just waiting on the happy ending. Spoiler alert - there isn't always one, exactly. Just the love left over when everyone is gone - and THAT is what keeps us beating our head against the decked halls.
Let me run this down for you.
Wednesday night, everyone rolls in on a plane. It takes multiple vehicles for retrieval. There's a lot of people. Fact. Everyone is tired and snack-ish. We fill our lovelies with banana and strawberry crepes while we listen to the stories of the day's travel and everything on the planet that is happened over the span of time since the last time we've seen them all. Everyone is happy and exhausted. Full house, full hearts. Happy momma. Sleep. Good.
Thursday, we take a non traditional turn and take everyone to the hot springs before a dinner out and attending the CP Rail Christmas train concert. Beautiful. I have made sure to tell EVERYONE before we left - hats. mitts, coats, boots. I bring blankets. Does everyone bring all the things? Nope. Are we able to be together enjoying music and lights and hot chocolate? Nope. Because it's cold, and one requires a coat to keep warm. And boots, and mitts, and hats. Also, the - this one doesn't enjoy the company of that one, and these two just want to be by themselves, and this one should be spending some time with that one, and that one is sick, and this one always gets left out - has begun. With time to warm up, table games start, snacks, laughter. Good things. Memories. Yes, good - mostly.
Friday - half this group loves the ski hill. Half does not. It's fine, there's a spa and shopping to be done. We get it sorted, and everyone has an expensive, yet great day. Everyone is joyfully tired after dinner. What a great weekend this is!!
Saturday... it's been two (or three) full days of togetherness for some of us. That makes for some sticky relative humidity, and the pretending loving this Christmas thing and all it's facets gets harder and harder. There is an ill planned event thrown in the middle that interrupts all the things, more sick kids, over indulgence, over tired, overwhelmed, over Christmased. There is resentment and shitty attitudes. There is yelling and inconsideration and disrespect. There is more yelling. There are people sleeping in locations others than those assigned to them. This is our "Christmas Eve". There are no games, there is no cheer. There is door slamming and yelling and a whole lot of Fuck Yous. Merry Christmas?
Sunday... Our Christmas Day. Silence mostly. Interrupted by tears, some door slamming, more name calling, more illness, angry parents, angry children, hurt feelings, more resentment and one HUGE tug of war of trying to keep the peace. It's not even noon. There are humans holding more than they can bear, and there is nowhere to escape to. By two, things seems to be lighter, calmer at least. Begrudgingly, and because they know it's planned, eight of us take part in outdoor Christmas Olympics, and laughter finds us. It's cold, there are still sick people, there is still hurt, but there is also still love. Dinner, for who can attend due to an abundance of germs, is still awkward. Presents follow. We all do what we can with what we've got at this point. There is an enormous realization of effort here - believe me, it does not go unnoticed and my heart swells a little. The ickiness of the night before and morning is still lurking. There are things we can't shake and the silence takes over again, followed by more tears. Y'all... these are the parts that no one talks about. No one posts about it. This is real, blended family bullshit. This is pasts and presents colliding and adulting and learning and real life. Real Life. It's not always easy and joyful - despite what social media has us looking for. Real. Life.
So, if your Christmas isn't snowballs and sparkly lights, if you struggle with family gatherings and keeping the peace, if you try your best to make a Hallmark movie with the likes of the Muppet Show, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you don't love Christmas - I got you. I see you. That doesn't mean you don't love your family, or your people. Society has made it nearly impossible to keep up with the Grizwolds, and the Miracles on 34th Street. I am no Cindy Lou Who. Not anymore. And if you aren't either, ya ya peeps. I see you.
Remember what I said earlier? It's the love that lingers, beyond it all? I still cried when we dropped everyone off at the airport (uhhh even though they are still there?). I always do. Love wins. It's the reason you answer the phone at 1:15 am after all the flights have been cancelled and someone asks - "Dad (or mom, depending on the phone), what do we do?". Things you realize in that moment: 1. Your adult children are still children, and even though they need guidance on how to sort this out, they still called their safe place first (because love wins) 2. Even though you haven't slept properly in days, you still search your phone at 2:30 in the morning for taxis and hotels to make sure they are safe (because love wins). 3. You will be very proud of how they have conducted themselves through this mini life crisis/lesson. Love wins.
You don't have to love Christmas. This season is harder than it has been created to be. You don't have to love all the moving parts of your family. If you can tolerate them, congrats, but if you can't, you're not alone, but LOVE STILL WINS. Did we have good times? Yep. Did we play games and laugh? Yep. Did we argue and fight? Sure did. Did we love each other? Yes. Even when we didn't like each other. Was it perfect? Not even close. Do we want to do it again? Not right now. Will we next year? Probably. Love wins.
I hope you all still want to hug your lovelies and hold hands with your loves, and put forth the effort, because, my sweets, love wins. I promise. It's going to be okay, even if it's not shiny all the time. Do not let all those perfect pictures infect your sense of who or what your family is or isn't. No family is perfect, relationships are messy and hard and perfectly imperfect. People share their joy, but often not their struggles and that's where the loneliness grows. And you, I, we are not alone.
I'll tell ya what - this would make one heck of a screenplay - even if it's performed by muppets.
Also - love wins. So we win. Perfectly imperfect.
Merry Christmas my loves. I see you. I love you.