Boxing Day in a Non-Anglican Household

December the 26th

Well, It Wasn’t So Bad After All . . .

Christmas turned out to be almost perfect this year, in spite of the many hiccups along the way: The presents were all wrapped in time. The tree was decorated and in place, but the Labrador’s first Christmas is still a little iffie (as in she has already tried to eat three to five ornaments; we aren’t exactly sure as we have only found exoskeletons of what we believe were ornaments. I know that two of them used to be bird ornaments that I have had for at least fifteen years). Also, I have forgotten about Labrador tails, as in the damage a happy swishing one can wreak on the bottom limbs of a tree. Yes, Tillie is enjoying her first year with Santa.

Christmas Tillie

The kids all fared well. Brett ended up with two berets, one fedora, and one kind of old man’s hat. Lots of solid color t-shirts to wear under his jackets, a thrift store camera, and a few other goodies. But we’ll come back to Brett in a moment.

Eamonn received a very handsome sweater from “some girl he’s been dating for a while” (newsflash, newsflash, hello?), and lots and lots of clothes, which is primarily what he wanted. He also got two new hats: a deer hunter’s cap, I believe they are called; really I don’t know, just ordered and paid for the thing, and another stocking cap with a bill on it, black of course. And the ex bought him yet another mp3 player.

Alexis and Mike received some nice gifts. She loved the Buddha plaque and stand that I had found in the thrift store. It looks like it might be bronze with a greenish patina. I bought it the same night that I got her lamp, the now famous $135 lamp, the one I got the night my wallet was lost/stolen. That’s the most expensive $5 lamp I’ve ever purchased.

Corey liked all of his presents, especially since he picked them out, but he didn’t know about the gourmet dark chocolate covered cherries. And I got five new pairs of Christmas socks to add to my collection. Whoopee!

The Problem, My Friends, is With the Man on the Phone

Levi's 569 Jeans

But getting back to Brett, his father said that he would get Brett jeans for Christmas. Brett really only likes one style of jeans: Levi, dark-wash 569, loose, straight. How hard is that? After much trial and error, he finally found a style that he really feels comfortable in. They are Levis for criminy’s sake. Not Calvin Klein or some other designer label. And I even told his Dad where he could find them on sale. I told his father what size and style Brett prefers. Said father does not manage to get dark wash or 569. But he does manage to get Eamonn a brand new Sony mp3 player that will hold over 5,000 songs.

This is the third mp3 player that Eamonn will have had. He is very hard on them. I recommended the Sony player instead of an ipod this time because ipod’s are too fragile, and he has managed to kill two of them already, and they are too expensive to replace. But his father has replaced them, just as he has replaced Eamonn’s cell phone twice, and we have replace his cell phone three times. Eamonn is just plane hard on electronics.

Now my ex is free to do whatever he wants with his money—obviously. I just really wish that he weren’t so patently obvious in his  preference of one son over the other. When confronted with this observation, said ex will get very angry and  claim that someone is starting things. However, I have only made this claim once, and for the most part, our ex-ness has been fairly amiable.

But I just reached a limit this Christmas that made me do something that I usually don’t, and that’s to get on the phone and start something. I regretted it as soon as the phone began to ring, but I truly felt that it needed to be done. Like St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr for whom Boxing Day was originally named, I felt as if were about to be stoned in a market square for daring to tread in these waters, i.e., question the motives of said ex.

St. Stephen, who cared for widows and the poor, died, and Boxing Day or December 26, became a day on which to bestow boxes of food  and gifts of cash to tradespeople and servants as an expression of gratitude. It was also the day that the alms boxes in churches were opened, and the alms were distributed among the needy. So with St. Stephen’s will in mind, I began my journey.

I called the ex, and told him that I really didn’t think that it was right that he so blatantly treated his sons differently. Essentially. There were a lot of words in between. The “conversation” began on pretty negative terms, but over the hour and a half settled into a calm detente. We agreed to disagree on a few things . . . Before that, he accused me of calling him just to make him feel guilty, which of course, I denied, but that was so one of my motives. The things we do to the people we used to love, the people who are still significantly in our lives.

Love lost in a divorce from a marriage that has just worn itself out, with two people who don’t really hate each other but simply cannot live together any longer is probably the most pathetic kind.  Divorces full of acrimony might be better. Then you can call each other horrible names and snarl at each other at every turn. But I don’t hate this man. I want him to be happy. I want him to find someone to be happy with.

But I also want him to treat his children better. I’m just not sure that he ever will. And that’s a really hard reality to face gracefully and quietly.

But Then Comes the Dawn*

“Murmur of Eos” by Wayne Gruver, acrylic

The good news is knowing that their stepfather will always be there for them. For every time that my ex has not been there, Corey has been there. When they have been sick in the middle of the night, Corey has been there. When Eamonn wanted a stuffed Charmander (from Pokeman) years ago, Corey didn’t stop trying until he won one out of one of those grab-it machines.

When Brett wanted to duel every Saturday morning with his Yu-Gi-Oh cards at the card store, Corey would drive him and Eamonn thirty minutes each way, and buy them new packs of cards whenever new sets came out so that they would have good cards for the tournaments.

He has been there for off-key chorus performances, honors programs in hot auditoriums with screaming toddlers and babies; he has attended every one of Eamonn’s basketball practices and Saturday games that he was in town for. He even showed up at the emergency room soon after we started dating when Eamonn was kicked below his eyebrow during recess. Paul was not there.

My children have been very lucky to have a man who loves them unconditionally, whole-heartedly, without reservation or conditions. And I am truly blessed to have this man in my life as a father to my children and as my best friend and true companion.

All in all, it was a very happy Christmas for us all. I need to remember the good, look past the bad, and not let the assholes get me down. Unlike St. Stephen, I have been blessed with more good than bad. The new year is coming soon, which means a new chance to start over and maybe get it right this year.

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, and here’s looking forward to a peaceful new year in which we all have the chance to follow our muse, wherever she may take us. Peace.

*Isn’t this painting in acrylic by Wayne Gruver absolutely gorgeous? I came across it when I was looking for an image to represent Eos, the goddess of dawn. This wasn’t what I was looking for, but I’m so glad that I found it. I really wish that I had the money to purchase this (ha!). I find it incredibly sensuous and peaceful at the same time.