The house was loud. Kids were running around with plastic cups filled with apple cider in hand while the adults are drinking eggnog and talking to one another all around the kitchen and living room. The weather was crisp and cold outside but the fireplace with the filled stockings above it was keeping us warm, here inside of my cozy home. My husband, Colson is cooking the turkey and mashed potatoes, our son is helping out this christmas by “helping” me make the pumpkin pies. He's only 7 so he's really just making a mess while I tell him that he’s doing a good job. Everything seems so perfect in this moment. It’s our first white christmas in a few years and after dinner the kids will be on their way out the door to play in the snow just to come back in an hour later with rosey cheeks, runny noses and fingers they can barely feel to beg us for some hot chocolate. Dinner is almost done so we’ve decided to do the presents while we wait for the oven to ding signifying that the turkey is ready to be carved.
Our family has a system for presents, the presents under the tree are all lined up from the left side to the right, starting on the left with the oldest childs presents ending in the youngest children presents on the right side of the tree. The kid’s sat down in front of their present section and on the count of my husbands “1.. 2.. 3!” the wrapping paper starts flying and the smiles start spreading. After the children have opened all of their presents from santa the adults give them their presents one by one. Starting with nana and pappy, the give the oldest grandchild, Makayla her present then Stephen, to Gino, to Sydney and finally to Jayden. Next goes the parents to their children and finally the aunts and uncles to their nieces and nephew’s all one by one so that everyone can capture photos and see what others got. The presents are all open and the family is scattered around talking and doing their own things.
Finally, the oven beeps. Colson takes the turkey out of the oven and the house is filled with it’s mouth-watering scent. My sister, Cassie and her children Stephen, Gino and Sydney set the table with the food while Cassie’s husband, Justin set out the plates and my son, Jayden put the silverware next to each plate. Everyone sat at the table while my father, Dennis said grace. “.....in God’s name, amen.” “Amen” say’s everyone in unison. Everyone is digging into their food and into conversation about school, work and the new around town. “Word around town is that… Well maybe the kids shouldnt be around for this conversation. Jayden, how’s school buddy?” The conversation is all stopped when Jayden says nothing but tugs of the hem of my shirt and staring at the door in confusion.
I follow his glance and immediately tell the children to get the jackets on and go to the backyard and play in the snow. The children run out of the back door one after another without asking any questions or looking back inside. Once the kids are all outside, I open the front door to be met face to face with my ex husband. “Tyler.. What are you doing here?” my voice has turned cold. “Let me explain” “No Tyler, it’s too late for that! You think you can just walk out on me and our son in the middle of the night with no explanation, no call, no note, no nothing and then just pop up at my house 3 years later? No! You can’t! I won’t let you hurt Jayden or this family ever again. You don’t have the right to be here. Go, now!” My family is all staring at me wide eyed and not knowing what to say while my gaze is on nothing but the lazy excuse of a man before my eyes. Tyler tried to get me to change my mind “please just give me a chance, let me explain mysel..” “No!” I cut him off “get out” my voice is now emotionless and stern. Tyler just stood there and stared at my mom as if asking for her to tell me to give him a chance. “ You need to leave, Tyler” says my amazing husband. Tyler then turned around and walked down the porch steps. “Kids come inside and get some hot chocolate” Colson yells out the back door knowing what I was thinking without me even saying anything. I don’t trust Tyler and I didnt want him to go through the gate and try to talk to Jayden. Jayden was 4 when Tyler walked out on us and he may not remember much of it now but he was broken when he woke up the next morning and daddy was nowhere to be found. I will not allow him to hurt my son any more than he already has.
The children piled into the house one by one and sat at the table after taking off their coats, boots, hats and scarves. I handed the children their cups and went to my room to collect my thoughts. After a few moments of thinking, my thoughts got the best of me and I shed a single tear only to angrily wipe it away a second later. “I will not let this affect me.. I will not let this hurt me or my son any longer” I thought to myself. Just then in walked my wonderful husband that I am so thankful for. “Are you okay my love?” He asks with concern in his voice and worry written all over his face. “I will be, thank you for everything you do for Jayden and I. You came into our lives at such an unexpected time and you changed everything for the better. You took Jayden in and treated him as your own and i know it's not always easy. He’s young and he throws tantrums and gets out of line sometimes but those things never seem to bother you. You're always so patient and kind and you always know what to do.” He cut me off by kissing me ever so sweetly “I love Jayden and I love you. I wouldn't want what we have any other way. I know it’s not easy but nothing ever is and i would rather go through the hard times with you than good times with someone else.” A sheepish smile takes over my face as I take him into my embrace and kiss him like nothing else in the world matters. “This man right here truly is the love of my life” are the only words that go through my mind. We break off from our moment and we rejoin the family upstairs where again, everything seems perfect and right where it should be.