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Reconnecting for the Holidays After Years of Disconnection



The holidays...as lights brighten the streets, holiday music is heard everywhere, and the world seems to sparkle a bit more, this time of year brings opportunities to gather with loved ones, celebrate, and create lasting memories. But for some families, like mine, the holidays can, and have been, reminders of disconnected pasts and unresolved differences.

It's been several years since the feeling of togetherness filled my home during Christmas. Divorce, death, and family dynamics have brought sadness, and had carved deep gaps between my ex and me. Our son, (his stepson, though more like a son, and they have always kept a good relationship), is now an adult with a family of his own, and has been caught in the crossfire of discord for almost 20 years since our divorce. And adding to the havoc, we encountered the sudden traumatic death of my Daddy 4 years ago. Daddy was our familys anchor and rock, my biggest silent cheerleader, my sons mentor and guidance, and also someone my ex revered. And, also the sickness and passing of his mom, one of the finest and strongest ladies I ever knew, and his siblings. The grief is always there, and seemingly more profound during the holidays, making this time of year just emotionally difficult for us all, effecting us all in our own ways, even my own moving away for a couple of years after Daddys accident to retreat from the trauma. The bitterness of the past, the losses, and the dynamics of lifes circumstances has held us all somewhat captive, just barely getting through the holidays; and the prospect of coming together, genuinely, with past greivances put aside, seemed just daunting, if not impossible, for us.

With the kids juggling their busy lives and schedules and their own family dynamics, time moving so fast, the grand baby growing up too quickly, life, God, has a way of nudging us towards the things that matter most, our small, but just as valuable, family. As a wellness coach, I often speak of the power of healing and connection. It was time to practice what I preached.

Two days ago, in an unexpected conversation with my ex, out of the blue, and out of my mouth, came the idea for he and I, to put ALL aside for the sake of our son and his family, the grandbaby, but also a part of our own healing and familial connection we all needed. I was honestly shocked what came out of my mouth, did I really just suggest us all get together for Christmas at my house? At that point it was said, and I was in for whatever response I got, which was one of few words, but he seemed to understand the idea. It was an unexpected, VERY fragile olive branch, but it planted a seed of what could be possible.

Cautiously, but being optimist, I brought the idea to my son the same afternoon...and there was atually no response; my heart kinda sunk and my thoughts were of what will Christms be like this year? As happened a day later, yesterday, my son called and said what time should they be at my house that evening, again no mention of my suggestion, (and I wasn't revisiting it). My heart was just full that they were coming here for Christmas, and I had just a day to get a plan together for dinner and the usual Christmas things, just wanting presence and joy for everybody. Hesistantly, and with uncertainty, I called my ex and invited him to join us, being that I made the suggestion a day earlier, I felt I had to stay with my words. Unsure of his response, I just said they were coming and would he like to join us; there was a moment of quiet at first, then he said he would be happy to....so here we go, our first Christmas together, again, 20+ years later.

My ex arrived first. Oh, and the kids didn't know he was going to be there. Totally my failure, as I got caught up in the days doings and didnt let them know. Seeing him was not odd at all for them, and we have shared family events at the kids house before, but at my house I'm quiet sure was unexpected. Before the kids arrived we had small, simple conversation and some laughs at this actually happening, as I was busying myself finishing up dinner prep. The kids came in and things actually went as normal as if it were just another day. We enjoyed our meal, some laughs, the usual Christmas gathering kind of stuff, opened gifts, playing with the grandbaby, and even took a drive to see Christmas lights all together, in one vehicle. It was a good night.

There may have been some awkwardness at first, and to be expected, but all in all it was Christmas time about the presence and joy, sharing. After the kids left, and I was cleaning up, we chatted about how we were kind of proud of ourselves for reaching this place together, after all of these years, for the shared desire to make it maybe brighter and easier for the kids and grandbaby. For the first time in years, I felt a sense of family in my home, with my Daddys hat hanging on the chair at the end of the table; I know he was there with us, and I know he was smiling down on us, and his Mom, also.

Slowly, the walls that divide can began to crumble a bit, and reveal the humanity we had forgotten existed in each other. We let go of past grievances and embraced that present moment. There were no instructions or guidelines, only a mutual understanding that this was for our son to have his small family that he knows, together.

I spent my first night back here on December 22nd, 2022, (another spur moment decision I made on that morning, no explanation, just to go), making the day of this unplanned Christmas gathering one full year of being back. Yesterday morning I was sitting just looking the Christmas tree, feeling this past year and the changes, feeling blessed with my little home, the health and safety of the kids, thinking of Christmas too, and the whats of the days to come, when we may get time together, and maybe a little sad, too. In my daily written gratitude and prayers it was for the peace I've had in my little home this past year, the healing I've experienced and that continues, and prayers for insights and new beginnings with joy, family, purpose and prosperity to come; this was before the plans for the evening were made. That being said, God hears us and knows our needs and our hearts.

In the midst of it all, I was reminded that the holidays weren't just about perfect decorations, gifts or an elaborate meal (we enjoyed a taco bar), they were about finding the courage to mend what was broken and embracing the imperfectness of family bonds; to stay connected through whatever comes to family, because it's so much harder on everyone alone, fighting it, not taking the steps to heal and face the storm.

So, here's to the power of forgiveness, the strength of second chances, and the beauty of rekindled connections for all involved. God has the plan, He gives us the words, even when we're unsure, and guides us through, for His good. He knows what we need to heal, He knows why He brought me back here, He knows the value of family, no matter the dynamics. Healing is a long process, there is no time limit or manual on it, it's a consistent practice, just as are all healthy living measures, It's a part of your overall wellbieng, and your loved ones. I've gotten to experience the positivity of the healing process, in those few hours last night. When you think nothing is happening, its all happening.

May this season remind us all that love and togetherness triumph over past grievances, and that finding joy in the company of those we hold dear is the most precious gift of all, its about presence, not presents.

On this Christmas Eve, wishing you all a Merry Christmas and holiday season filled with love, laughter, and the joy of reconnection.


Always...

Keeping Body & Mi nd IN-MotioN,

Angie

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