Today is all about packing and sorting out the house because we're leaving for Georgia. We go there every year for Christmas because most of my family lives there. My sister from Chicago will join us as always so that all four of the Wells Girls (my sisters and me) will be together. That feat only happens at Christmas, and I look forward to it all year long.
Eustacia has been home from school for about a week, and No. 1 just arrived last night. We opened our presents from each other right away, talked for a while and then called it a night. So, now we'll combine our family unit with the other family units down south. This gathering is a tradition that we've maintained since 1974, and it has evolved as people have joined the family through marriage or birth, but this year, I wonder if we're being stretched a little at the seams.
One sister has been estranged from her husband for years, but he continues to share Christmas with us because he's like a brother, and he has no other family. We take him in for a few days and pretend everything is OK even though we know it isn't even close. Last year, I got the sense my "brother" was only going through the motions and was just there for the sake of his daughter. This year, I expect he'll have one foot out the door, and we may never see him again. When a marriage fails, the entire family loses a member, but pass the cornbread dressing and light the tree.
Despite our tradition, we had momentarily discussed having Christmas here at home with just the four of us, but then my mother announced she would be moving in with Sister No. 1 after Christmas. She's feeling her age, it seems, and needs to be around other people, but she wants to host Christmas one last time in her house. Well, how can you say "no" to that, so we're going. We'll work around her confusion and forgetfulness, her repetitive stories and inability to operate the television remotes and, even in this case, pretend everything is OK even though we know it isn't even close.
So, I have developed a theory. People are always saying that Christmas is about friends and family, but I think it's about pretending for the sake of friends and family that all is well because we all need at least two days a year to forget our troubles. Don't you think? A few days to set aside the trashed marriage and the decaying brain and the vast differences in opinion on things like politics and social issues and church issues—in my family the list of those differences really is vast, as is true with most families, I think.
So, merry Christmas to you all, and I hope for you and your families, you can give the gift of pretending. It's a pretty valuable one.