smile and shrug

…what else can I do?


My family used to be a Hallmark commercial at Christmas.  When my husband and I would put up the tree and start unpacking ornaments, the kids would gather around and we would first sort out which “Baby’s First Christmas” belonged to which kid and then move on to the “remember when”‘s of all the other ornaments we’d collected.  17 years of marraige and 3 kids brought us plenty of ornaments to “remember” with.

From the 1971 Snoopy ornament my godmother had given me when I was a wee one, the 1991 mexican mouse in a serape and sombrero from a friend, the carved oak star of David to symbolize my husbands heritage, to the dolphins from our North Carolina family vacation, and all the kids’ handmade ones from years of preschool and kindergarden.  It took hours – but it was hours of joy and fun.

These days our holidays feel more Jerry Springer than Hallmark.  When 17 years tanks in a grandiose ball of flaming shit, it’s kind of hard not to fantasize a little Jerry Springer.  I’m working on that though.  I’m trying to honor the past and recall the love and joy while building new traditions in a family that has been torn into shreds of bitter loss.  It’s hard to build new traditions when every year brings new changes, different schedules, and unplanned events.  Through it all, I persevere.  What else is there to do?

This is the third Christmas that Heathen and I have been together.  Our first Christmas found us brand new to each other and me in the midst of – well, let’s just say I’ve seen Hell freeze over and it ain’t what you’d think.  Nevertheless, as Christmas passed that first year and I repacked up our conjoined decor, I carefully packed away MY decor separately from HIS decor.  Who knew what would happen, where next year would find me, or us? It seemed practical and even wise to keep it separate.

Our second year was alternately tense and yet hopeful.  We’d come through some really challenging times, learned more about each other (for better or worse…) and gone through the wringer more than once.  We unpacked ornaments and one night HIS kids put up theirs, and a different night MY kids put up ours.  It seemed to work.  Again at the end of the holidays I carefully and almost single mindedly sorted out HIS vs MINE.  I’d seen things that made me feel this was definitely the best course.

This year  came upon us in a rather awkward place.  We’d separated, come back together, and were contemplating separating again when we discovered that at age 50 (him) and 43 (me) and with 7 kids between us, we were going to have a baby.


As I am taking down our Christmas ornaments from the tree today I realize there are some that I can’t recall as being HIS or being MINE and I realize I don’t care.

As the years have inched past us in moments of hot coffee in bed, dance recitals, music performances, football games and sports awards, saying grace at the table and shared pride in our children, bits of selflessness like flowers given for no reason, or his favorite meal hot in the oven even as I dashed out the door to work  all combine with a tiny promise growing within me and I think, what does it matter that our decorations are mixed up?  What does it matter that I no longer can tell the difference between what is HIS and what is MINE – the fact that I no longer can tell the difference means something bigger and better than the alternative.  We’ve come together in spite of it all.  We’ve blended.  We’ve mixed.

I can’t wait for next year!


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