I knock on the door of my sister’s apartment. My family decided to spend our 2nd ever Christmas with Laura this year. As I wait for her to open the door, I think back to last year when she drove all the way down see my family on the spur of the moment when I asked her to spend our first Christmas with me; just hours after my parents and oldest sister had left in a emotional huff over my decision to leave their very controlling religion. ‘My, how much has changed over the last year’, I smile to myself.
The door opens and my sister steps into view. “Your here!” Laura excitedly says as she gives me a big hug. Over the past year, she and I had become closer as we both bonded over the shared experience of being shunned by our other siblings and parents. I step into her living room and take in the decorations adorning her place. The tree in the corner is dolled up in an eclectic mix of ornaments, including some hand made ones from her children. It feels cozy, and I anticipate eagerly the dinner she has prepared for later as I get a whiff of it coming from the oven.
“Where’s the wife and kiddos?” She says while looking behind me to see if anyone is following me in.
“Oh, they are still downstairs getting things from the car.” I say as Laura closes the door behind me so as not to let to much heat out into the cold outside. “But before they come up I wanted to give you your gift.”
“What?” she laughs. “I thought we weren’t doing presents, you jerk.” Laura hits me in the shoulder. “OK then, lets get it over with.”
“Well, remember a few months ago when we visited and I told you that I feel bad that of all the siblings you have, that I would be the one to ‘wake up’ and leave that religion. I always felt that you should have got a better member of your family back.” I awkwardly recite my prepared lines that I silently curse myself for not making better.
“Ya, I remember.” She says with confusion in her voice. “But……what does that have to do anything? Plus you don’t have to be sorry for anything. I love that you are back in my life.”
“I know it sounds crazy, but, I want to make up for that, and for not being their for you or your kids for most of my life.” I take a step back towards the door. “So I got you just a little something. So Laura…..from me…….to you….” I grab the doorknob and swing open the door. There in the entrance stands my oldest sibling Melissa. Standing next to her is our mother.
“Merry Christmas?” Melissa says in a nervous tone.
Laura’s face turns white and her eyes grow 3 times larger it seems. “What….is this?” She can barely get out.
“We wanted to see you.” Our mom says. “Family should be together at this time.”
All this seems to much for Laura. Her eyes immediately start to glisten over with tears and her lips begin to tremble uncontrollably. I notice her knees start to shake and almost instantly her legs start to give out beneath her. With a quickness that is surprising for a woman of her age, mom rushes forward and cradles her in her arms, softening somewhat the fall as Laura crumples to the floor. The tears start flowing in great heaving sobs as my mother pulls her close into a tight hug. This goes on for a moment before Laura’s head suddenly lifts up and she pulls away.
“Wait, wait, wait.” She says as she wipes her nose with her sleeve. “What does all this mean? Are you just here to make yourselves feel better for a day before leaving me again? Because if that’s the case…….”
“No, little sis.” Melissa says and she joins the two of them on the floor. “It’s for real this time. We realize how awful we have been to you, and we are here to make things right. For good. We finally started listening to what your brother has been raving about for the last year. After some deep soul-searching and sleepless night, we both decided that if doing that to our family was supposed to be ‘the truth’, then we wanted no part of it any longer I was wrong and I’m so sorry.” She says as her voice breaks.
“Melissa is right.” My mom chimes in. “She was wrong.”
Laura’s eyes flicker with a moments confusion. “Take what you can get.” I cough under my breath.
Mom continued as if nothing happened. “We know it will take some time, but we really do mean it this time. I love you and I want to spend the years I have left getting to know my beautiful daughter again. And my grand-kids of course.”
“I guess Jon being a jackass know-it all finally paid off.” Laura said smiling at me. I smile back at her at the same time knowing that I would probably be due for a punch in the stomach from her later that evening for not telling her all of this ahead of time. She turns back to them and begins to sob once again in her mom’s shoulder. I head for the door to give them some time alone.
“Actually,” I hear my mom say, “If it wasn’t for Melissa, I would never have listened. It took her to convince me.”
“God-Dammit….” I say to myself, shaking my head as I close the door behind me. I walk over to the railing of the second floor apartment stairway. The fading afternoon sun hits my face and I feel the cold crisp air. I smile as I think of the future. For the first time I am hopeful for the new year. There will be struggles and hardships. Hurt feelings from the past will need to be talked through with each other. And time will still be needed to heal some very deep wounds. But this is a new beginning for our family. Its a chance to actually be a family for the first time. I pull my phone from my jacket pocket and text my wife: “Bring the kids up. Let’s begin our first ever family reunion.”
Just as I hit send on the text message a hand on my shoulder spins me around and my lips our pressed into the full lips of a beautiful blonde. “Why, hello there, pop superstar Britney Spears!” I breathlessly say. (Shut up! All this is fantasy anyway!)
“Was that your wife your texting?” She asks nodding towards my phone. “Tell her that she hogged all of the covers last night.” She giggles without waiting for my reply. “I can’t wait for later tonight. Then you and your wife can unwrap a very special present I have for the both of you!”
(Note: Okay universe. I am putting all of this out there. So lets make this happen. You have 4 months, so lets go!!! Oh… and if you can’t get to all of it…..just the last part would suffice.)