My brother JF wrote: The Christmas of 1991 found me recently separated, and with joint custody of my eleven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.
After a few hours (of being together with their mother at our family home), I brought them over to my place for a nice lunch…hey, I’m Italian; we gotta eat…and more presents. Finally it was time to return them. I walked them to her door, and then grabbed myself two armfuls of children. “Merry Christmas, kids. I love you very much.” “Merry Christmas, Daddy. We love you, too.”
And as I stood there, the door slowly closed in my face, and the deadbolt clicked into place. I can still hear that click. And I became overwhelmed by the crushing realization that, for the first time since I had my little angels, they would be somewhere on Christmas where I couldn’t go. Where I wasn’t even welcome.
Now intellectually I knew, of course, that not everyone is thrilled on Christmas; that many people get together simply out of habit or obligation. I knew that. But with my emotions wrecked, at every house I passed I was certain that all of them were filled with love and beauty and children and happiness. And the homes with lots of cars out front made me feel even worse.
My reflection: The holidays can be tough times, especially when your child is an addict. I remember well the Christmas of 2006 when neither Jeff nor Jeremy came home. Our lives were chaos. I wept through most days, feeling desperate for the broken state of our family.
Today’s Promise to consider: The holidays are stressful enough without me adding all the expectations of what I think a happy family looks like and acts like. This season, I will be gentle with myself and my loved ones. Yes, I will be gentle.