Maybe you’re thinking of the three wise men or Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter, eventually settling on a manger, but this is not that story.
I’m referring to my families first Christmas 8 years ago in our new home in the Poconos. Our first as a family of four rather than three and my first as a man who is blind, although not yet officially.
Experiencing a loss during the holiday season makes even future celebrations feel like work. For the Reid family the work begins in November. My father passed away the Sunday before Thanksgiving 1996, being buried only the day before the festivities. We understood my mother’s emotional roller coaster during many Thanksgivings to follow, although it was still very difficult to manage.
On the morning of December 25, 2003, I remember awakening with a patch on my eye. This was the result of the Christmas Eve biopsy performed to determine the magnitude of the aggressive tumor behind the right eye.
Truly it was a bitter sweet, surreal moment. We were raising two beautiful children, one of which was only a month old, in our newly built house where just a few weeks prior we had so much hope for the future. While there was so much to celebrate, there was so much uncertainty for what the future would hold for our family.
My fate was not yet sealed, family and friends were hoping and praying for a full recovery and return to normalcy. My little girl wanted her Daddy to see her again. My wife wanted the same and more – relief from the insecurity of not knowing if everything we have been building would soon come crashing down.
And me, honestly, I just didn’t feel like dying.
That first Christmas was difficult, but not as challenging as what would follow. We got through it.
Now that Black Friday is over, the tree in Rockefeller Center is lit and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer cartoon premiered on television, its official, the holiday is here.
Every year when it comes time to put up the Christmas tree in the Reid house, we have a tradition. Well by we I mean me. My wife instructs me to retrieve the tree from the garage, yes we use a fake tree, don’t judge me city habits are hard to break. She then complains that I do not help decorate the tree. I insist that my role is to either capture the moment, formerly with video now occasionally using audio. The tradition continues where my daughters promise to take on more of the decorating tasks, but usually end up playing or watching television. My wife then completes the tree raising and complains that every year it’s the same thing. Ahhh, Christmas, I love it!
This year I would like to change a few things, not the tree trimming, that’s a tradition after all. I’d like to get all of my shopping completed by December 10. This would alleviate added stress. I’d like to figure out a way to manage the tension that comes with, well you know, family. I have a few spirited ideas, but they can produce other issues. I use to have the one solid go to relief, get in the car and go somewhere under the pretext that I was doing a household chore. “We need more, uh raisins”, I’ll go get them I’d say and grab the car keys. Back then we lived across the street from a supermarket, but I would stress that the other supermarket further away had a sale on raisins.
Obviously this is no longer an option, so I am forced to deal with things like a man. That’s right…,
Man Cave, here I come!