So Christmas happened. Things were purchased, wrapped, given, unwrapped, received. Absurd — yes — but no more absurd than living and dying so I’m not banging on Christmas. We do all kinds of crazy things. Like fishing. Fishing confuses me to no end. And Twitter. What is that? Anyway, Christmas happened. It happened for my kids and my ex-wife and me. So that’s what I’m reviewing: the way one family (mine) happened during Christmas. The most important thing about all of it, as the picture to the left demonstrates, is that there was dancing.
Some people are turned off by calling broken families “broken families”. They’re just different families, new kinds of families, unconventional families, fringe families, postmodern families, decentered families, etc. I like “broken family” because it connotes actual imagery for me. Things that are broken. Broken toys and shattered coffee mugs. My family was this thing that worked and then it broke. And if blame’s a thing that must be declared, fine, I broke it. Another reason I like the notion of a broken family is that the word “broken” implies, carries within it, the seeds of its own mending. Broken things can mend again.
How your broken family mends is the same way the cut on your finger heals. Who knows? But, eventually, it feels better.
I don’t live with Jenna and the kids and I haven’t for a couple years, so that’s the way it is now and it doesn’t feel weird. Rather, weird would be packing up my things and moving back in. They would all look at me like an obstacle and say things like “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here. We have developed all these new ways to be that don’t include you and now your sudden presence intrudes on all that.” Their stupid dog would bark at me. Jenna’s boyfriend would get mad and want to argue. Because me living with them is just not how it is anymore. It’s broken.
However, Christmas still happens and there’s still the bare facts that I am the father and Jenna’s the mother of our two children. So here’s where the mending comes in. Mending is more subtle than reconciling. Mending is simply the closure of the separation that causes pain. And it occurs when two adults decide that a really great Christmas for their two kids is more important than the pain that caused them to break. THIS is the breaking mending. And this is how it happens.
Jenna says to be to her place by 7. I knock. I don’t just walk in because it’s not my house. I high five my son and kiss my daughter (slow down, gender role crazies. I’d kiss my son if he let me). Everyone opens presents. Kids shriek with joy. Parents smile, sometimes at each other. Pictures are taken. We eat freshly baked muffins. I am mauled by their stupid dog. We call our parents and pass around the phone. Me and Jenna try to fix some glitches in our phones’ synched calendars. Jenna mentions that she hopes it’s okay if her and her boyfriend have the kids for the entire spring break to go to Hawaii and I say cool, because Hawaii IS cool, and tell her, yeah, I’ll just spend the week in Chicago with my girlfriend. We do not flinch. These things have no bearing on the primary purpose of the kids having a really great Christmas. I help the kids free some of their toys from the bondage of plastic and put some things together. We goof around awhile. The dog wants to kill me. What’s his deal?
There’s a very subtle shift in the atmosphere that signifies the end of a holiday and the time to go. I hug the kids, thank Jenna, and leave. Broken families mend. It’s not the same as fixing. Mending occurs behind the scenes until everyone slowly forgets how badly we suffer.
Read more from me at Black Hockey Jesus,
Recent posts: My Daughter’s Holiday Choir Concert, Taking My Kids To See The Hobbit, The Wind Blowing Through My Daughter’s Hair, Thanksgiving Alone, A Bubble Of Solitude Around My Children, Discussing Delayed Gratification With My Son, My Daughter’s Halloween Costume, Getting Locked Out Of The House With My Daughter, The Rapidly Developing Interiority Of My Son, My Daughter’s Transience And Inevitable Death, Being a Divorced Dad, Taking My Kids To The Salad Place, My Son Becoming A Real Person, My Daughter Reading To Me