I spent Christmas 2016 in Santa Fe with all three of my adult children and their families, plus some of their extended families (in-laws, cousins), and my brother. I have spent the last three Christmases now with some of my kids, but this was the first time we have all been together in over 2 years, and it’s maybe 10 years since we all celebrated Christmas together. I am adapting to the holidays without Kevin, but it’s not just about having distractions to keep me from thinking about him. I found more of myself this year, which I suppose is another step along my grief path for the rest of my life. It was an awesome holiday vacation, and they just keep getting better.
I lived in Santa Fe for 17 years as a young woman, wife, and mother. We moved there when our daughter was 2 months old, and both of our boys were born there. I’ve been back a few times since I left over 20 years ago, especially since the youngest son moved back there. When I left, it was a few years after my divorce from my kids’ dad, who still lives there. I had always struggled to fit in, never quite feeling like I belonged there; not unaccepted but not embraced. It was always a nice enough place to visit after the divorce, yet I never wanted to move back. But now I think about it, partly because I have found some peace within myself about that the relationship he and I used to have and the one we have now. Now I am more sensitive to the shortness of a life span, more aware of what makes me happy, more interested in thinking and being than doing. On this trip, I even went to see him for a few minutes and wish him and his girlfriend a Happy New Year. (It wasn’t creepy; she had already given me a Christmas present, and my kids and brother were there also.) How I feel about him is fodder for another story someday. Suffice it to say that I can now appreciate my own life differently.
Anyway, in these intervening years, I went back to college and completed both an undergrad and graduate degrees. I moved three more times, always for more progressive employment opportunities. I married and buried a second husband. I lost both my parents and a stepmother. I have traveled to nearly all 50 states and been to Europe, Canada, and Jamaica. I learned how to drive a motorcycle, and I adopted two furry four-legged boys. I have read probably a thousand books. I’m now starting my own business. In other words, I have expanded my worldview significantly, reprioritized my life a few times, and changed a lot. I like myself and the life I have created, and I have released old ideas of who I was and what my role was supposed to be. I had more confidence about this visit to Santa Fe than I have ever had.
I always hate to leave my kids and tear up when it’s time to say our goodbyes. I fantasize about moving to be with them all the time. I scope out real estate ads and contemplate other job options. I daydream about a Waltons kind of close family (ironically, Waltons Mountain is here in Virginia). I imagine the kids think about it some, too, for me.
And then when I get on the plane, I feel myself relax, already anticipating the peace and quiet of my own home, with my own stuff around me, making the mental move back to my regular life. The freedom of not having to be in full-on parental mode and the independence of coming and going as I please without having to be accountable to anyone else. When I get in the door, I breathe a sigh that comes from deep within and says “you’re home now.” Is it the lure of Virginia and my house? I don’t think so; it’s my lifestyle. Which is portable. As am I. Portable, I mean. I would bet the kids are also happy to get back to their own lives.
I don’t think I am ready to move, and for sure the idea of packing and doing all it would take to make another cross-country move is daunting. So it’s time for a little transition or compromise of sorts on my part. One easy thing I can do is to initiate more contact with my kids by phone and email, or preferably by Face-time or Skype. I also can re-evaluate my budget and see about more trips to see them. Although I whined that my flight yesterday left at 6 am, I was home by 2:30 local time, so a bit less than an 8-hour trip door to door. I have driven further than that and not been anywhere! I also introduced a tiny bit more Santa Fe style to the house.
I added a gift piece of Acoma pottery to my little collection that includes Jemez and Santa Clara Pueblo pieces already. I bought two colorful ceramic light switch covers and installed them.
And I brought a Native American wool blanket out to my family room so I can enjoy it daily. I can have it all, in a way…it’s not eccentric, it’s just me.
The “reason for the season” reminds us of the goal for peace on earth, which begins with me. I think I have finally achieved that, or at least I can see it. I don’t have to GO home again, I take the sense of home with me where I go. I felt at home there, and I feel that nowhere. The best gift I got this Christmas is knowing that.
Good for you, Pat. The trip looked wonderful with all the smiles and adventures. I have been waiting to see your post with your additional commentary. Very nice to hear you are feeling better and better. Life is definitely never easy and allowing yourself to keeping moving forward and changing as necessary is growth! Beautiful.