Family Dinner. For our April birthdays.
This was my dream, something I started planning in March, knowing how congested the sports schedule that the boys are entwined with would be. I knew my surgery was April 26, and I would not be able to go out for a few weeks. So I nagged, consulted Blackhawk/White Sox/Pet Lions calendars and came up with two dates for a family fest. Once the playoff dates were final, we abandoned a mid-week dinner for a weekend date. We would be able to spend time together, open gifts, have cake and not watch the clock. Saturday was the night. A good time was had by some
The details do not matter. Family is messy. Social commerce turns to social homicide. Old roles are revisited, the safety net of family allows mean words to spill out. Charm is lavished on outsiders, cruelty turns into the family circle. Public celebrating demands that things be smoothed over. The joy evaporates. Salvage is the key. Gifts are unwrapped, cake is eaten, Happy Birthday. Good Bye. Bed is welcome. Bad dreams ensue.
Then we get up, and the wine that lubricated my evening and allowed us to move forward is not a buffer. I remember how tenuous the peace was. I know that people were strafed and I pray that they are not damaged. I see my life’s work, my family, as an organism that could change in ways that I never wish to see. Steve is withdrawn. A bad sign.
I am an accommodator, Steve is an eliminator. He prunes painful times from his calendar. He has done all that his children needed from him: supported them, educated them without debt, loved them, quit drinking, admired their work. He explained the mysteries of boys to me so that I did not make catastrophic mistakes. He does not expect pay back. He expects peace. When family time means war, he will prune family time. And my life will never be the same. Happy Birthdays, indeed.