Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thoughts of Christmas

As Christmas comes upon us this week I can’t help but think about one particular Christmas that changed my life.

I had been living far from home for some time, trying my best to feel AND be lost to my family. Maybe there was a lot of anger inside me. Or maybe I just felt numb and preferred to ignore the fact that I actually had a family. Regardless, I was oblivious to their calls, mocked their emails and threw away their letters. “I’m living my own life,” I would say to myself. “I can take care of myself.”

And then something happened that tore my heart out. Suddenly, I was by myself, far from home and inconsolable. There were days during that period when my tears never stopped and my thoughts turned to dark places I never knew existed inside a person. I was ashamed. I was confused. I was alone.

Somewhere in the mist of all that darkness I realized that I could not make it alone. So I decided to come home for Christmas.

As I opened the door that Christmas eve I was greeted by the smell of a roast in the oven, a large Christmas tree in the living room and the warmth of my mother’s arms. “Don’t worry Jack,” she said to me. “You are now home. Everything is going to be ok.”

I’m not ashamed to say that I am crying as I write these words.


Happy Holidays everyone.


bill h said...

What a marvelous Christmas Memory Jack. I can't think of a more poignant description of home.

Merry Christmas Jack. I hope it's a great one.

I'll put up a link in the morning for my own Christmas tradition on our local public radio station.

My wife and I continue to try to simplify Christmas, and to celebrate it in a meaningful way. I think we did that this year.

Jerry Critter said...

Happy Holidays, Jack. Holidays and families go together. Spend them together if possible.

charlee said...

That is truly moving, thank you for sharing. I hope you are spending this one with the people you love and care deeply for. Merry Christmas!
Ch x

Anonymous said...

I've spent Christmas in many different countries around the globe over the years - and it's all good as long as I'm with my family. There's something about family that makes Christmas special - no matter how hard we try to forget that sometimes!

Anwyay - I hope you have a GREAT holiday!!


Sharon J said...

Thank you for sharing that, Jack. As much as we don't always get along with our families, there are times when nobody else is quite good enough.

Anonymous said...

Lovely story.
With this illustration I was expecting comments on opulence and waste during the holidays.
Would this be considered a typical Christmas scene in your home?

Anonymous said...


I'm very appreciative that you made this post and shared your experience.

I am in one of those "wilderness" seasons with my "family of origin". There are good reasons for the distance -- aren't there always? The distance has been good for me.

It will be different some day, but not this week. I actually made Christmas dinner last night, wondering what I was waiting for. I did not put up a tree or lights.

I am old enough to know there are seasons to life and I am not going to have much trouble.

It matters to me that you found a way to acknowledge both realities: distance and return.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This, to me, is a sad story. I see your fear driving you, your fear of the dark places. That is the very thing you need to examine. And the only way to make it through that is alone. No one can help you. Before that it was your desire driving you away from your family. All you did was vacillate from one extreme to the other.

There is a middle way. Awareness. Neither pushing or pulling. Just the radical acceptance that comes from understanding the nature of humanity.

Christmas is nothing but your conditioning. Do you think a child in India is thinking about his family today? If you life is based upon conditions you will never find true happiness, never mind simplicity.

Erin said...

This is beautiful.

It seems that as you continue down this path of simplicity, you continue to find yourself home :)


Anonymous said...

Jack, you touched on exactly what I'm going through right now. I never really thought Christmas was that important to me and for awhile now I have been estranging myself from my parents due to my making some decisions and life directions that flew in the face of my very conservative upbringing.
However, my parents continue to love me and wish to see me, buying me a plane ticket so that I could make it home. This has touched me so deeply in my time of pain and sorrow, that I am still so loved by my family despite everything.
My darkness is still there and still needs to be dealt with but it is eased a bit for now. I am nervous about meeting my parents again and all it entails but I do now realize how important Christmas and family is to me.
I thank you for your story.

Keri said...

Great post, Jack, And I love what Wilsonian wrote -- very perceptive.

Merry Christmas Jack, from one searching soul to another :)

Me said...

If there is one thing I've learned... it's that family is the only thing that will be there for you in the end. Know your bonds. never let it take you to a dark place, that dark place is simply made up in your head. You make your own dark place.

I want to wish you a happy holidays but you can only make it as happy as you want. Instead, try a thankful approach, and be glad you have a family to return to, be thankful at what you have in the times that others don't have such simple things... as family.


Jack said...


Thanks and Merry Xmas. Looking forward to seeing the link.


You said it. Happy Holidays.


I hope you do as well. Take care.

Jack said...


Believe it or not, it took me years to figure that out. Happy holidays Nancy.


You never choose your family. You are sort of born into it. But at least it is yours.


You know, your comment made me realize how stereotypical that pic I put up really is. No, not all that close. But maybe it is the idea of Xmas that one is conditioned to have in one's head that, while flawed and somewhat false, keeps you going every once in a while.

Jack said...


I have been through many seasons myself. The distance is actually good for the soul. Prolonged distance, particularly the type that is rooted in old grudges and unending drama aren't all that good for the soul. I am a firm believer in this law of nature: you can never really go back home. But you can go visit occasionally. Here's hoping your visit is sooner rather than later.


Interesting perspective. While I see a great truth in what you are saying, I would add that while getting through the dark times can only be done on your own, maybe having people that care about you near you may speed up and facilitate the process.

And good point on conditioning. However, even when you are 'aware' you can still appreciate the origins of such conditioning. Symbols are powerful. And not all symbols are inherently evil.


Good point. The question is this: where is home? who is home?

Jack said...


Thanks. I'm glad it resonated with you. I hope it goes well at home. It's funny; maybe family isn't necessarily the people who nurtured you when you were growing up. Maybe it goes beyond genetics. Maybe family is anyone who loves you no matter what happens.


Thanks. And Merry Xmas.

Miles to go,

Thanks for that beautiful comment. I wish you a safe and happy holiday.

bill h said...


Here you go, plus you get the audio of that Texas Accent.

Merry Christmas Jack

Diana Nicolescu said...

:-) Jack,
For whatever is worth from an agnostic like myself, here is a virtual Romanian-Lebanese hug...
As I told you before, don't worry, Jack, you are home. :-)


Anonymous said...

Jack, how wonderful. I know the feeling. I hope you are "home" now.

Nicole said...

Jack, there are moments that I tell myself "I'll teach them by not going home for the holdiays" but then I always cave in. The holidays are about family and friends. Forget the commercial nonsense. At this moment, I think I'm being held captive at Reagan National and won't make it home. Let's hope I make new friends at Gate 28. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

rachaelgking said...

Thank you for sharing this. Tis the season to be sentimental... and grateful, after all.

Happy holidays, Jack.

rachaelgking said...

You get it. ;-)

Merry Christmas, Jack!

Heather's Moving Castle said...

There's something about being with those who love us most! ;)

Hope your Christmas was simple, yet inspiring! I missed my little brother (19) the most this holiday and last. He is going through a terrible coming of age episode. He won't call anyone and chooses to be with friends for the holidays. It must be tough being young and angry. Glad you worked through your anger. I know my brother will too. It's just hard when you feel helpless.

Heather ;)

Jack said...


Wonderful! I actually bought that same biography of John Adams for a friend last year. Wasn't it wonderful?


Thanks for the hug. I know how intense those romanian/lebanese hugs can get!


Thanks. I am definitely home. No worries.

Jack said...

Miss scorpio,

I hope it turned out ok. Seeing family is pretty much a requirement this time of year, regardless of the cultural conditioning that has reinforced our needs in this regard.


Hope you had a great xmas/holiday! And thanks for the comments.


I hope he can reconcile himself with the fact that he has family that cares for him. He will figure it out eventually.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack,
Your memory made me cry. My dad died two months ago and I am still not over losing him. Our family decided to have a "home made" Christmas and it ended up being the best Christmas.
Family is all we have. It isn't about the gifts but about the people. Thanks for sharing the wonderful memory

Elizabeth Halt said...

That is beautifully moving; thanks for sharing.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas this year and were able to spend it with people you love! :)

Unknown said...

I am surprised to read your xmas post considering your simplicity goal. I no longer think of an intersection where family and Christmas meet. Instead, I view it as a Hallmark holiday where people all across America spend money they don't have on crap they don't need and crap their loved ones do not need or want. If it could be as simple as people who like each other get together for dinner, why do it only once a year, when the calendar dictates?

Of course, this is coming from a big firm lawyer who is 4 weeks from starting a leave of absence for a year to take a round the world trip with my spouse. I am farther along the simplicity path, which started over a year ago for us. I have caught up on the basics from your blog after the post in the ABA Journal today. Congrats on your realization and your new journey, but why are you anonymous? I've been public with my goal for about 6 months now, and it is liberating!

Jack said...


You've said it best. What we need to do is to rescue the best part of Xmas in the holidays in general from the rank consumerism that has chocked it for so long. My condolences on your loss.


Thanks! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season as well.


Totally in your corner. Just a couple of thought: 1. there is something to be said for tradition, even if it has been defined by crappy consumerism for so many years. Getting together with family, opening presents, the xmas carols, the foods...it's all stuff we have grown up with and love. 2. You can have a great holiday and still avoid the consumerism that has killed us for so long, in my opinion.

And as for anonymity, who knows, maybe this year i will come out the proverbial blogger closet.

Sandy Montgomery said...

Would that be the same mom that you said F*** You to in your next month's post?

So you will take the good but not the bad? I don't have a relationship with my mother because of her anger, abuse, and just plain toxic nature. So I get not liking your mom.

But to be such a hypocrite... going home and availing yourself of her generosity, obvious love for you, and welcome... and then venting your hatred of her in such a public way a month later...

Yeah... it's not nice.