Monday, December 20, 2010
Losing It, Part II
I found the glove. We're very happy together again, and just in time for the wicked weather on its way tonight here in Chicago. I'm all stocked up on milk and Christmas cookies, so no worries.
We did, however, lose a Christmas stocking last week, and initially that loss hit me harder than the glove. I bought three felt stockings when my 13-year-old was a baby. I paid $7.99 a piece for them at TJMaxx. I didn't buy the "extra" two for Ron and me. I bought them for the two kids I knew I'd be having after the first. Of course, we went on to have three more kids, but I didn't want to get too far ahead of myself all those years ago. The fourth one (the stocking, not the child) doesn't match the others very well, but it was the best I could do at the time.
But I digress.
I let said 13-year-old son take one of the stockings to school with him for a French project. Why? Because I thought I was being over-protective of the stocking when I said no the first time he asked. This was on Monday. On Friday, I sent him a text to remind him to bring the stocking home with him so it wouldn't be stranded at school over the two-week vacation.
He came home and confessed: he hadn't been able to find it since the presentation. He'd been looking for it all week, checking with the teacher daily, checking the lost and found daily, scouring the halls, his locker, asking other kids if they'd seen it. All to no avail.
My reaction was to go back to the email I was typing at the time. I couldn't respond right away to him because I didn't know what I'd say when I opened my mouth. He apologized over and over and said he'd buy a new one. "It's not about the money," I told him as I headed upstairs to find a door I could close. "It's the sentimental value."
So I cried for a few moments--less over the stocking than over the realization that my kids are growing up and Christmas is a bigger reminder than birthdays are of that fact. I liked things how they used to be. I like them how they are now. So it only makes sense I'll like how they'll be tomorrow and next year and the next, right? But "sense" doesn't always come into play for me, especially when it comes to my kids.
I went back downstairs, where he was sitting on the sofa waiting for me, visibly upset to have disappointed me. And then I felt bad for making him think he'd disappointed me. We talked for a few minutes. I assured him I wasn't angry. And then I told him I had to head out to buy another stocking. He asked if he could go with me. The talk and the time at the store with him more than paid for the "loss."
I'd read an article earlier that day about depression and the holidays and how the depression generally arises from this sense of loss so many people feel, whether it's the reminder of lost loved ones, lost dreams, or failed expectations. We anticipate so much over Christmas that we're bound to find the reality falling short of the plans.
On the drive to TJMaxx, where I found a perfectly suitable replacement stocking for $7.99 (13 years later), I assured my son that nothing matters more than my children do, and that I don't ever want him or the others thinking that my memories of being with them are more important than being with them in the present.
As long as I can focus on the present, without an ache for the past or a concern for the future, I think we'll all have a merrier Christmas.