Christmas Eve 2021. My kids are at an age where they are starting to be kinda cool. They can laugh at stuff. They can appreciate good music. They can carry firewood. One piece at a time, but still, it’s one big piece now; used to be just kindling. Today I had them fill up the rack inside the garage from the racks outside. I told them 20 pieces each. They can count too which is quite helpful for the firewood.
It was 30 degrees out. They trudged back and forth in the cold. With promises of hot chocolate and the reminders that Santa is watching. They also helped shovel the driveway. That was less successful than the firewood. They helped me feed the cats, and herd the cats away from the dog. They miraculously kept the dog occupied for 40 minutes today while I took 40 minutes to myself on the treadmill. Usually I have to crate the pooch.
We went to my Mom’s and saw extended family outside of my sister and sister-in-law and niece. Literally the first family event with actual extended family since before March 2020. We know about the COVID surge. We took precautions. We all kept staring at each other. Because it’s been so long. But staring in a good way. I unfortunately was on a time crunch because the poor pup can only be in the crate just so long at five months old.
My Aunt and cousin have purebred yellow labs. I of course have my heinz 57 rescue mutt pup Cheetah. But we could commiserate on the new puppy blues. Because that’s definitely a thing. It was a lovely dinner and evening and honestly just a relief to see my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin.
As my sons and I drove home I put on the Sing 2 soundtrack.
The soundtrack is kind of amazing. We belted out the song the Gorilla sings. Then we belted out I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. It was all amazing. And then I started crying. Not sobbing. But tears definitely fell.
I got to see my Aunt and Uncle and cousin once in two years. There are other Aunts, Uncles, and cousins I still haven’t seen and do not know when I will see again. The boys looked at my Aunt and Uncle on Christmas and smiled, and said, “We never see you!” Leave it to the kids to state the obvious.
Their childhood is shaped by this weird isolation. Their experiences are so incredibly different from my own childhood filled with Christmas Eves of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, great Aunts, great Uncles, and tons of second and third? cousins. Whoever was in the general Northeast area in the family would be around for Christmas Eve.
I grieve for what the boys are missing out on. I grieve for my Dad. Because he would be part of my inner COVID safe circle and he would love my dog and he would make horrible Dad jokes and be intrusive and annoying. But he would make the isolation of COVID so much less lonely. He’d probably come over every day just to see the dog.
As I drove home singing Sing 2 wiping away tears with my sons singing loudly I grieved for my marriage. Not because I want to be married to my ex but because I am lonely. It’s incredibly difficult to be a single parent during the holidays. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting and depressing in a way I can’t really describe other than to say if you know, you know.
But I also was happy. Happy to have that moment with my sons where we could laugh and sing and be silly together. It was a beautiful clear night and when we got home, let the dog out, and I put them to bed, it felt right. That night felt right, and that I suppose is the magic of Christmas.