Coming Home for Christmas
Years ago my life changed and it was the Christmas Eve that I became a man and it wasn’t when I turned 18, it was when I realized you become a man when you accept responsibility for your actions; It had been over four years since I had seen my parents.
We had an argument right before Christmas and right after that I joined the Army and had not spoken to them since. I had just turned 18 and thought I knew everything and didn’t have to answer to anyone. After two weeks in the Army, I realized my parents were super nice compared to the training officers. I also realized how wrong and stubborn I was with my parents, but even though I knew I was wrong I still couldn’t eat crow and let my parents know I was wrong, after all we had some really harsh words between us and said things that shouldn’t have been said.
As time went by it got harder to make the phone call and more time that passed the harder it got. I had got out of the Army a few days before Christmas and found a house to rent a few miles from my parents, they didn’t know I had got out of the service and I still hadn’t acquired the courage to apologize to my parents. The next day I was driving by my parent’s house and automatically I pulled into the driveway. Everything was the same as I remembered, except there was no decorations outside. Mom and dad always decorated every inch of the yard. People would drive from all over town to see our yard. I got out and started walking up the sidewalk and before I knew it, I was pounding on the door and couldn’t quit pounding I was so excited to be home.
Mom opened the door and for a minute she stared at me before she wrapped her arms around my neck and started crying. Dad came up behind mom and before I knew it his arms were wrapped around both of us. After a few minutes we all went inside and other than a few updates everything was the same. We went into the living room and the Christmas tree was already up, but after looking closer it looked the same as it did the day I left. I looked at dad and he said she refused to take the tree down until you came home. Under the tree, there were presents and dad shook his head and smiled and said you have gifts from each Christmas and after seeing how you have got some muscles on those bones you might be taking some to the goodwill store, we all busted out laughing.
I looked at mom and dad and told them how sorry I was for the things I said and even more sorry for not coming home sooner and apologizing. Dad asked how the service treated me, my mouth gapped over and he said we heard you enlisted. We talked way into the night and when I went upstairs to my old room, it was exactly as I had left it and that’s when I realized how hard it must have been on my parents for me to walk out of their lives and not contact them.
I laid awake all night thinking how cruel and selfish I was to put them through this. When mom and dad got up the next morning, I had been up for over three hours. I figured I couldn’t sleep I might as well get up and do something useful. I had gone outback in the shed where they kept the outside decorations and by the time they were up the yard looked like it did years ago, with additions from the local Walmart where I had to make two trips to get everything home. The more I decorated I realized for the last four years I had this burden weighing on me and I hadn’t been happy with myself for a long time and now the brisk air I felt on my face was like a cleansing of my soul, one I was long overdue for.
The look on my parent’s faces was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received. Christmas Eve had started out wonderful! We had our traditional movie night with hot chocolate and Christmas movies, and I vowed I’d never hurt my parents the way I had hurt them over the last four years.
Two years later at Christmas, I gave my parents a gift of telling them they were going to be grandparents. Ironically, I met my wife the morning I bought all the décor for my parents’ yard when she was helping me find what I needed and a year later we were married. There is always time to make amends, sometimes you need to make the mistakes to amend the mistakes.