other as I relished being “in the know” and I immediately began to make plans for how I could help celebrate this momentous occasion. No, our family of four would not be traveling to Colorado...just my mom and dad...but I was so happy for her! We lived on the northern Atlantic coast, in a small beach town, so Colorado seemed so dreamy and exotic. No wonder my mom so longed for such a trip!
The tiny house we lived in just became too small to discuss my plans…and to show my continued excitement about this amazing GIFT my Mom was finally getting. I excitedly told my closest friends and grandmother about the gift and my plans to help celebrate…I had to tell someone…and I couldn’t talk about it at home. This was a BIG deal and I wanted it to be a true surprise. I could imagine the joy my mom was going to experience and my heart soared. Perhaps this would make it all okay…perhaps she would feel loved and cared for when this finally happened. Hope grew inside of me…hope for her…hope for me…hope for us all. I couldn’t mention much at home but I somehow managed to let Dad and Tim know that I planned to purchase a toboggan and scarf to place on my mom’s head and around her neck just before she opened the box with her tickets to Colorado. What a perfect touch! I was given the green light with a smile and twinkle in Dad’s eye. It was going to be GREAT! It seemed impossible to wait the few weeks until Christmas morning.
The day finally came and with bellies full of cinnamon buns, bacon and Mom’s famous fruit salad, we gathered around the Christmas tree in our tiny living room, waiting for Mom to finish her morning preparations for Christmas lunch. The condo filled with smells of my Italian grandmother’s lasagna recipe which my mom loved to cook for us each Christmas, as well as her delicious garlic cheese bread...which would soon join the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and red and green “holly” cheesecake that always accompanied our holiday spread. It was the norm for Mom to feed us more with her cooking than with her presence. When Dad finally pulled Mom out of the kitchen to join the rest of the family--Tim, his fiancee, my grandmother and I, in the living room, my anticipation grew. Heart-racing, palms sweating…it seemed like forever before we the moment came where Mom was about to open her gift…and I could set the scene with the scarf and hat. I sat in the floor, on my knees, with the fuzzy wool scarf and hat tucked behind my back. Finally, as Dad asked my brother to place the shirt-sized box with the large gold bow on Mom’s lap, I could hardly contain my joy. I glanced at my dad and then Tim, both were smiling, and then stood up, pulling the soft blue hat and scarf from behind my back and placing them on my mom’s hat and around her neck. Mom’s confused look did not squelch the pride I felt in that moment. Just wait, Mom! It’s gonna be GREAT! I was so pleased to be a part of blessing my mom with this awesome surprise!
As Mom gently undid the gold bow and slowly tore the red foil paper from the box, my eyes were glued to her. Has she figured it out? Will she squeal? scream? jump up and hug my dad? I had never seen any such joyful reaction from my mom…but what DOES one do when one of their dreams comes true?! My mind raced with possibilities. Oh, Mom, this is so exciting for you!!! I studied her face. I found cautious curiosity…confusion…maybe a tiny trace of little-girl-like anticipation as she glanced across the room at my dad. As she lifted the top off the box and pushed aside the crisp, white tissue paper, time slowed down for me as she reached carefully into the box and pulled out her new diamond stud earrings. WHAT? WAIT? THIS IS NOT RIGHT! SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE!!!
My body froze. I stared at those diamond stud earrings. And then I heard laughter. I sat back on my knees and only then could take in the reality that all the eyes in the room except Mom’s were locked on me. No one was looking at Mom. All eyes on me. Something is so wrong. I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry for misleading you. I’m sorry that this moment is now about me, not you. I’m sorry that I jumped to conclusions. I’m sorry and I’m mad. But I won’t show it. I will laugh it off and blame myself. I will stand in the middle and rescue everyone else. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been nosy about the conversation between Tim and Dad. I shouldn’t have assumed. I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. Again.
Through Story Exploration
This story has been a family favorite. Unfortunately it has been one that continues to bring harm to my mom and I. It was just this past Thanksgiving that my mom and I finally confronted the others about this story not being welcome. That was a big step for us. Last year, as our group stood back to explore this story, there was so much good and truth, but there were critical lies that evil spoke. Here are a few:
Yes, my family was dysfunctional like many families are, but during exploration of this story, it also arose that one of my brothers had died a year earlier in a tragic accident. I came to see that I wasn't just hoping for my family to be happy at Christmas, I was really trying to make my family whole again, which was a burden I was never meant to carry.