Quite frankly, the holiday season and I have never gotten along. I can only stand so much of the holly jolly-ness of it all before I start to lose whatever spirit I had. By the time they are all said and done, I pretty much am just ready to pack up all that wrapping papers, ribbon and bows – stuff it all in a bag and move on. Because lets face it – the holidays, they never seem to end. Until they do. And then they are gone.
I have been called scrooge more than once, simply because I just don’t like to spend money on impulse items that never make it past the weekend. I hate gathering around, forcing a smile, while eating food that I really don’t like. I can take the songs and the movies – for a day or two, but after that its turn back on the loud and wild stuff that makes people cringe. What can I say?
This year I have made a conscious effort to try and go out of my way to HOPEFULLY make this a good year for the kids. Or, kid. As it is in our case this year. But today, I woke up, and felt like all of whatever holiday spirit HAD been there, was completely drained.
But its too late to back out. I have already agreed to a hundred and one things I really do not want to do. I have to make a ham. I have to drive a billion and one miles to spend the day with people I don’t know, and am not even sure I want to know. I have to force a smile. I have to pretend I like everyone’s cooking. That I like the house. The people. The smells.
And when its all said and done, I have to say thank you and drive another billion miles to share the rest of the day with the other kid who is locked up with his peers, awaiting the flight out of here. Which is all a story for another day. And yet another thing that takes the holiday spirit down about a hundred notches. Because the stark contrast of the day will be just that.
Me. And them.
Us. And the others.
A few hours spent forcing smiles, laughing, eating and drinking until we roll ourselves out of the house vowing to never eat so much food again…before walking up the steps to a house filled with kids who have done something stupid in their young lives, and been placed in a home because no one really knows what or how to deal with them.
There will be families I don’t know, yet am connected with an invisible cord because we are all walking down this road of many different paths together. There will be fake smiles, for sure. But there will also be the stark reality of what is truly happening. The underlying, no denying – we are spending thanksgiving with our kids, who are wandering the dangerous edges of life.
Sure. We are thankful. Thankful that he was found when he was found. Thankful for hospitals, and doctors. Thankful for therapist. Thankful for medications, and people who know so much more than me. Thankful for another chance that seems so utterly terrifying. Thankful. That I didn’t have to say good-bye, yet again. Thankful for the terrifying chance to do it all over again. Thankful, yet scared. Petrified. Terrified.
I will spend the day with people I do not know, because I want that sense of normalcy. That slice of happiness. That “this could have been.” Because I like to torture myself with all such things impractical. I will spend the day with them because back when the holiday spirit was alive and well, I agreed to come. To cook what I was asked, and arrive at the time suggested.
I will avoid questions that make me cringe, and drive the conversation towards others. I will smile, a lot. And laugh, at the most inappropriate times – because that’s how I roll in awkward social settings. I will hold my breath and hope with everything in me that someone doesn’t have a melt down. And then, when the time is right and we have over stayed our visit – we will leave.
And spend the rest of our time in a home. With one boy who I thought I knew, but really don’t.
And then we will go home, cook our own turkey, turn out the lights and go to bed early. And be thankful. That for at least another day – we have the chance to fake it, until we make it.