I couldn’t have been more than 10. It was 1978 and Star Wars was all the rage. I had seen it in the theater and the toy I wanted the most was the beautiful Millenium Falcon. I had watched the Kenner commercials on TV and dreamed of flying that sweet beauty with Han Solo and Chewbacca on more than one occasion. I had to have it, and of course, I received it. I woke up early that Christmas before anyone else. I crept under the tree to the largest box that was marked with my name on it and slowly, gently pulled just enough of the tape and wrapping paper away to catch a small glimpse of the prized toy I had so eagerly wanted. It was the greatest toy I would ever receive.
My parents had thrown a party sometime during that week of Christmas. I remember vividly awakening from my bed at some point that evening to find my Dad’s friend Al passed out under our tree. Someone had taken the time to put a Christmas bow on his forehead. I remember it so well……
It was the year of the great blizzard of 78′ in Ohio. We lived outside of Columbus in a nice home. Desegregation of Columbus Public Schools had my parents furious. I had no idea what the word meant, but I did know it would mean that I would ride the bus much further than I ever had. My parents bought a house in a rural community. The thing about this house was the basement was furnished with a bar and a pool table. These were 2 of my Dad’s favorite things. It would be in that house, at that bar, I would take my first drink at 10 years old. I would take more than one drink in that house. I had found out why my Dad wanted a bar in the basement. When the adults drank and laughed, everything seemed ok. They had numerous parties and entertained constantly. I watched as the adults all laughed.
I guess my point is there are never-ending highs and lows in life. I know it to be true in mine. When the good times have been good, they have been great. When they have been bad, they have sucked. I mentioned to my wife the other day that I pray most days for normalcy. I’m not sure if that is possible, and if it were I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do with it if I received it. We often talk about ‘finding or maintaining balance’ in recovery. The holidays, for some, can be an emotional and trying time. It has been my experience that this is when I need to open up more about what is going on inside of me. To talk to someone else instead of counseling myself, or not talking at all.
There are a multitude of circumstances for this anxiety. I can’t measure what your’s may or may not be. Mine is and always has been centered in guilt or fear. As time has moved on, resentments seem to have faded, and I am better able to deal with Christmas. It’s not my favorite Holiday, but I am coming more to terms with it. I guess I wrote about 1978 because it stands out to me as one of the few Christmases that isn’t filled with pain and disappointments. Not all of them have been great so I hold onto that one, just for me.
Our plans here are low-key. A simple meal, candlelight service tomorrow night, and family. I am sure that ‘A Christmas Story’ will be on the tv at some point, as will ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. I will watch others as they run about, trying to find that perfect gift, try to create that perfect moment and capture that elusive ‘Christmas Magic’. I will watch as my children open their gifts and hopefully we will have hit the mark one more time with something they like. My wife and I will smile at each other and give that all approving nod of contentment as worn out parents on Christmas usually do. The day will come and go into the quiet of Christmas night and as all drift off…..
Me…..I will be somewhere, perhaps back in 1978, flying that Millenium Falcon one more time.
To all of you….
I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.