I'm not usually one to get excited about the holidays, but with my son now old enough to understand how to open presents I've been on pins and needles waiting for Christmas day. I even put up our small Christmas tree this year, and it's been no small feat to keep that 18 month old from removing all the ornaments and trying to pull the lights off of it. I haven't felt this excited about the Holidays since I was a kid!
But of course with every silver lining comes a cloud. My wife and I are debating whether or not to go 2 hours away to spend Christmas with my family in North Central Arkansas or to stay home this holiday season and volunteer at our church. Most years this wouldn't be a contest, and we'd be treking the trip, baby and all. This year I'm not so excited about the prospect.
See, this Thanksgiving we did make the trip and things didn't go so well. I don't know exactly how to explain it, except to say that I almost didn't feel welcomed this year at our family gathering. While I made pains to try to avoid talking politics, my youngest brother couldn't help but comment on my Obama sticker on the car, "You know this is McCain country, right?" Later that afternoon, my brothers started talking about how the country was about to go downhill, hearing Obama jokes (some racial enough for me to have to curb my temper lest I haul off and hit my brother), and hearing comments of, "Sarah Palin is a good Conservative Christian woman," and such, I finally left their discussion with, "I think you may be pleasantly supprised with what happens next," to which I got the ending response, "Yeah, maybe he'll really screw up and they'll get tired of Democrats." Like I said, I left before I got really mad.
It seems like my family and I have been drifting apart again, and that I am once again becoming the black sheep. Before it was because I had left Christianity entirely. Now it's because my Christian views have moved beyond what they were when I first came back to the Path, and have actually moved away from their more conservative views. It's a tough fit.
I think I can see thier side too. In their eyes, I'm becoming "citified" (my word, not theirs), and I'm losing my country roots. They are having to feel me out as much as I am having to do the same. I'm just not sure if I want to go through that again on a day when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. On the other hand, I don't want to deprive them of seeing Eli go crazy with the wrapping paper and I do miss them. So that's the crux of the problem. Go and pray that we can avoid the two dreaded topics of politics and religion, or stay and help celebrate Christ's birth with people who otherwise might not have anything to celebrate. Sounds easy, but it's a tough choice.
Can you ever truly go home again?