i write this on the first day of the new year, though it won't get posted until the second day of the year. i'm not ready to return to writing about mark's gospel, and today i want to write about our family christmas. our two children and their spouses were with us for several days for our first holiday together in our new home.
we love having our children with us. they both live some distance away--one has to drive seven hours to get here, the other eighteen hours--so they won't be able to come often now that we've moved. both our children are easy going and considerate, and we're comfortable with them. after all we have a long and mostly pleasant history together. we don't know their spouses well and have spent little time with them. naturally, the relationship between our children and their spouses changes the dynamic of our relationship with our children.
both couples were with us for several days, and, after they had all headed back to their homes, i fell into a depression. for a couple of days i moped around, unable to shake the blues that struck me. i felt as if my christmas had been spoiled. it wasn't just that our nest was empty again, but something deeper and darker. my wife was worried, since it's rare that i am in a sour mood, and she depends on me to be my usual upbeat self.
i stewed over how i was feeling during those sad days. i wanted to yell at someone, to break something, to crawl in the bed and pull the covers over my head to close out the world. by the third day of this sad-sack routine, i began to think more about the whys of my attitude. i realized that all the time our family had been with us, i was tense and ill-at-ease. because we don't know our children's spouses very well nor do the two in-laws know each other well, comments were made that were taken the wrong way. feelings were hurt. little quirks irritated. i was holding my breath during their visit waiting for someone to lose their temper and say things that would escalate into something more than petty irritations and minor hurts. i never relaxed and, when we returned to having just me and my wife in the house, i was exhausted from the stress that i had created for myself.
as soon as i realized the cause of the funk i was in, it dissipated and i became my normal self again. i talked with my wife about it, and she had the same reactions to our family time together but handled it in a different way. she was more honest with herself about how she felt and had talked to me about how she reacted to our son- and daughter-in-law during their visit while i had kept my feelings inside, trying to convince her and myself that what we were both perceiving was incorrect. what a weight it was to have the depression lift and to let go of the anger over my spoiled holiday! i'm so grateful for the time we had with our two wonderful children, and i hope as time goes by i will learn to know their partners better so i can enjoy being with them, too. i hope that i can prepare myself better mentally for the stresses that inevitably arise when so many people are together in the same house for so long.
may i not expect perfection in my relationships or build up expectations of how things are going to be. may i honestly deal with my own feelings and accept them for what they are without judging myself harshly. may we all see that our imperfections are part of who we are and deal with ourselves gently and lovingly. may we deal with others in the same way. shalom.