Tag Archives: Christmas

Two Sizes Too Small

Growing up, Christmas was a mixed bag. True, I got presents, but they came at a cost. Along with the gifts came strife between my parents–not just at Christmastime, the constant threats of divorce from my mom along with the manipulation from my dad kept our household in turmoil. It’s just that this nonsense was amplified around the holidays. They finally divorced when I was in my early 20s–about 20 years too late.

After I finally grew up and left home, I coped with the hurt by emptying bottles of booze. For years. During this time, I eliminated my parents and siblings from my life. That wasn’t difficult because we were never close. 

Maybe five years passed before I somewhat repaired what little relationship I had with my mom and sister. Up until around six years ago I was a godless heathen. I committed to attending my grandmother’s funeral four years ago before I realized that her son–my dad, would be in attendance.

Surprisingly, we made amends and he would remain in good standing as long as he would respect my boundaries. Sadly, both of my parents lost their minds November 4 by demanding that they bring my now-estranged meth-addicted sister for a visit. Against my better judgment, I agreed to this precarious arrangement under duress only for them to cancel their plans the following day replete with vitriol and shenanigans–all of this after I already told my children that they will be seeing three special gifts.

This partly why I’m typically grinch-like around the holidays.  The rest of my grinchiness comes from the pain from my AS which is my constant companion.

Fortunately, my family is going to Dallas this weekend to spend time with brothers and sisters in Christ to serve the homeless with Mercy Chefs. Through service, I’m reminded of the true meaning of Christmas which ultimately points to the cross.

So for those who have a nightmarish family, when your heart feels two sizes too small–look to the cross.


A Short Detour

It was on the way home in the early afternoon on Christmas Eve. Two years ago I was lost in thought driving home from my mom’s house in northeast Arkansas. It was the day after I attended my cousin’s funeral.

I hadn’t seen Brian in over twenty-five years, but I had a nagging feeling that I needed to be there. My mom lived 7 1/2 hours from me and I knew the travel was going to be hard because of my chronic pain. Yet, I felt compelled to pay respects to a stranger I barely knew a lifetime ago.

I’m about halfway home and near Malvern I saw this car on the side of the road. It was an old, beat up wreck. The car should have been at the junkyard, not on the shoulder of I-30.

As I passed, I debated whether I should turn back or not. After much inner debate, I finally decided to turn around at the next exit to investigate.

I knew this was going to foul up my time table. We celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is for tracking down extended family.

As I pull up behind this mechanized zombie, I’m shocked to see a girl. She was maybe 19 on her way home for Christmas break. I expected a meth addict with three teeth.

As I got out of the van I yelled if this young lady needed help. She said she called her uncle in Tyler, Texas and all was well. She had a flat tire. I asked her again if I can help. I could have the tire changed in no time. She refused and claimed she had no jack.

As I walked back to the van, I thought, “Well, I did my job. Time to get back on schedule.” Only I had an uneasy feeling like I had knots in my stomach.

My mind disengaged and I opened the trunk to retrieve my jack. I walked back to the decrepit car and told the girl I found my jack and would have her on the road in no time.

As I was jacking up the car, I inquired about the spare. No spare. Now I have to think fast. I can get a new tire at Walmart in Malvern.

I put the tire in the van and offered to give her a ride. She was being cautious and prudently refused.

I found Walmart and had the new tire put on the rim without incident and I was back on the road.

I find my spot behind this wreck. Ten minutes later the car is good as…well, as good as it’s gonna get.

This girl was excited and gave me a hug as all girls hug everyone. She inquired about the cost. I said, “No charge. Merry Christmas.”

That is among my top five greatest gifts I received. All because I was compelled to attend a near stranger’s funeral.