In stops and starts, we move forward, like that old kids’ game. Red light. Green light. Green light. Red light. Sometimes we’re sent back to the beginning, if we overstep or try to move ahead too quickly.
Divorcing was definitely a move forward for me, but it meant a lot of stops, too, like a stop to the Christmas Eve Open House with both sides of our family. I grieved more than celebrated the last two holidays.
This year is better, and I’m excited to be attending my sister’s celebration, instead of being the host at my own. Driving with two of my sons, I sing along to the radio, “Strings of streetlights, even stop lights, blink a bright red and green…” and they don’t even complain. The song reminds me that Christmas can be wherever you find it.
My joy is palpable in the car, since my middle son is there. His absence the last two years had been my biggest source of grief. Now, he’s taken his own steps forward at dealing with the divorce. His grin and carefully knotted tie make me smile all the way to Indiana, as much as his youngest brother’s jokes. Their sibs are driving separately, and they’re all eager to see the cousins who’ve traveled from Springfield and Memphis, Oregon and Arizona.
We celebrate in a flurry of reminiscences and food, games and old movies, and the White Elephant gift exchange that reminds us all of my Mom. We marvel at the two new additions to the family while honoring the memory of those no longer there. Green light. Red light. Green light.
At the end of the night, once windshields are scraped, and calls of “Be careful!” are absorbed by the air, my car is quiet on the return trip. We’re all tired. It’s late and the ice on the road makes me concentrate on my driving. I hope the brakes will hold at every red light, accelerate carefully as each light turns green.
On the highway the weather does something beautiful. Tail-lights blur in the mist of the rain, and green highway signs pop up out of the fog. The reds and the greens guide me all the way home, and I let out a sigh as I pull into the garage. We’ve all arrived safely.