I decided I can’t celebrate the holidays this year. As a result, I texted my brothers a heads-up. I asked them to go to our mother’s house without me. They said they understood and would. That left the unpleasant task of telling my mother I won’t be there for the holidays. I knew she’d be disappointed. When I saw her in person, I told her the bad news. She teared up but said it was okay. She asked technical questions about what I was doing. I explained that I’d planned to leave town to try and distract myself because it would just be too painful. She said she understood.
My mother, step-father, and I took my step-nieces and nephews to Target so they could pick out their holiday presents. Just because I won’t be there when the gifts are opened doesn’t mean I don’t want the kids to have something from me to open. The gifts will stay hidden at my parents’ house until December 25th.
In prior years, I’d ask the kids what they wanted and order it for them. Then Constance, Constance’s father, and I would drive out to my mother’s house with the gifts wrapped and watch them unwrap them. The thought of doing that without Constance makes my heart kick my chest in.
The kids wanted to know all the rules around what the presents could be before selecting their toys. Lola, the kids’ nickname for my mom, banned any toys that make a mess. I prohibited guns. Holly asked, “How many presents can we each get?” I explained it was not the number of gifts but the total cost of them. She then followed up with, “Okay, what is the minimum you will spend on my present?” I said, “The minimum is zero dollars. You want to know the maximum I will spend.” I guarantee that she’ll remember the difference between minimum and maximum for the rest of her life. It was a nice day out and a lovely memory.