What I mean by "concealed," are the family, and other secrets, which raise their ugly heads this time of year. I've had patient after patient that tell of family pain. Usually it is a estranged son, or daughter who is noticeably absent. During the rest of the year, you can bury the pain with the distractions of every day life but no so at Christmas.
What my patients share as even more stressful, is where the aliened son, daughter . . . (or more typical, son or daughter in-law), do make the mandated Christmas appearance and all hell breaks loose.
It is a stressful time of year . . . in the midst of real peace and comfort. It is like Sweet and Sour Pork, a little tangy a little sugary.
I am thankful that I have peace with all my kids. I don't deserved that kind of peace. But their Christmas homecoming only brings insomnia for myself. They want to stay up until 1 AM. Me? Well I have to get up to go to work. But that's the only lack of peace we have in our family.
I am faced with another area where I sense the tension and that is with my old pastor. It is incredible but the two of us do live on the same island. I was confident that we would have run into each other on the street by now . . . but we have not. So this brings me to the Christmas tension.
The kids are home and Denise wants church celebration to be part of that. She wanted us to go to her church. I said, "That's okay, you go to yours and I will go to mine."
Then she said she really wanted us to go together. I said, okay, come to my Church's Christmas Eve celebration. I'm actually looking forward to it. "Okay," she says. Let's compromise. "We will go to both since they are at different times."
Here's my problem. The last image I have of my pastor is three months ago and him screaming at me in rage, describing the long list of moral failures I had done to him and his church. Then, a couple of days later, when he tried to act like nothing had happened, I shouted back at him that he owed me and my family an apology. I still think he does.
But now that brings us back to Christmas. It should be a time of peace. I wish I could I visit his church, enjoy the service and give him a big hug in the end. Some day I hope that I can. But to attend the service now, I know that I would feel very uncomfortable and strained, and for me it would drain all the joy out of the experience. I'm just not a very good actor.
I still hope that I can run into him, at a coffee shop, in a store . . . somewhere . . . but not initially as the spiritual authority of a Church service I've come to partake in.