Look at her long legs stretched all the way to the floor. Look at her outfit compared to her younger sister’s – the fancy dress dismissed for a fashion statement. Look at this girl near 10 years old, with the knowledge behind those grown up glasses that she is now sitting on a stranger’s lap, not the comforting lap of a magical man. This photo was taken last week and after posting it for friends and family to see – I had a moment of embarrassment when I realized my state of denial.
Denial comes in many forms, frequently followed by the stark revelation of having been in such a state. Denial most often occurs when we aren’t really being present to our lives. Case in point, while mapping out my holiday get-to-do list, it never even occurred to me to consider whether a Santa visit for Anna was still appropriate? Meaningful? Enjoyable? It just went on the list for December 17th. Then I see the picture and I feel a jolt of surprise. Why does she look so big? Oh. Because she grew up when I wasn’t watching.
Many who are contemplating or moving through divorce have uncomfortable moments of recognizing their denial about the state of their marriage or the state of their divorce during the holidays. We set up grand expectations during this month of December based on our past experiences and too many viewings of It’s A Wonderful Life. We hold heightened expectations for bliss and perfection, and then it is particularly jarring feeling uncomfortable under mistletoe next to your spouse; or seeing your children’s empty seats at the Christmas dinner table because it isn’t your parenting time.
I encourage you this holiday season to find the magic of the moments. Stop looking for the magical moment. Be present to the presents that surround you. Be still and pay attention. When you do have your children, be patient and playful with them. When you are with your family and friends who have supported you throughout your troubled marriage, return their acts of kindness by lending a listening ear to them and paying particular attention to the conversations. I assure you that being present in this season will be a treasured gift.