A Labored Day 

Holidays are hard. Not the big ones. You can fake your way through those. The small ones. That’s where the holes are glaring. With Christmas and Thanksgiving, family come over. We sit around and eat ham, turkey, potato casserole, green beans, you know- the healthier stuff that I’m willing to list. Of course, I could have written how we always have as many sweets as we do healthy food (which by the way is a loose term in the South- it just means not sweet.) And to be completely honest, I’m including sweet potato casserole and strawberry pretzel salad in the healthy sides because they have some healthy words associated with them- potato and salad. Good enough for me.

We eat and laugh and yell at the kids to close the door as they come lumbering in and out a million times, covered in nature and pied pipering the state’s cartel of horseflies. The adults usually group up and go shopping or to the movies. Guess which group I make. Vacation fits in with the big holidays too. Because there’s an agenda, a purpose. You know where you’re going and what you’re doing. And if you don’t, you’ll figure it out because you’re somewhere new and normal rules don’t apply. You don’t have to be as thrifty, no bedtimes, no food rules (as if above made you think we’re strict food rule people.)

But these in-between holidays are hard. Long weekend holidays. Labor day and Memorial Day and Veterans Day and MLK Day and such. There’s an expectation from my kids to do something fantastic since they’re out of school. Out of school means adventure. All I can think of is the complications that come with performing and pleasing when I just want to lay on the couch and take naps. Like multiple naps. I would just take one full-day long nap, but I usually get woken up by a full-mouthed decibel destroying kid or a slimy tongued dog lick to the face. So naps. Plural.

There’s this pressure that I feel on the inside that life is flying by so fast and I have to make memories. I already have two of my three kids in middle school! And I dread the thought of my kids having this memory of Dad sleeping through the adventure. I envision us sitting around the dinner table years from now, me nodding off as I hear one of them say, “Remember how we learned to tip toe across the crackling hardwood floor so we wouldn’t wake dad up while he took one of his holiday-sleep-life-away-rip-van-winkle-lost-opportunity-all-day slumbers?”

“Yeah, dad is the heaviest sleeper. Remember how he slept through our childhoods?” One would say through a diluted grin. And I would awaken to all of them staring and laughing at me. I would laugh along with them so that we could all pretend like it didn’t matter, but deep down, I would sense the resentment and regret from them.

You know, that’s what the evil mind will do- play out the whole thing to its worst possible conclusion.

That’s what small holidays do. There’s a simple rhythm of a normal day to the routine of school, sports practices, dinner, homework, and bedtime prayers. No pressure because there’s no room for memories. No one remembers every common dinner or monotonous history report. But those danged short holidays. They scream at me, “Do something! Rent a hot air balloon. Go canoeing. Go deep sea fishing. Take them paint balling, mountain bike riding. Search for hidden treasure, make a movie, build a fort, climb a mountain, go rustle some cattle. Do something! Do anything but nap. Rest is for the weak, those who don’t care about memories.”

So we float through the big holidays. They come and go and just are. They’re simple and easy and then they’re gone. We make happy memories and live traditions and look forward to the next year where we get to do it again, mindless, but far from meaningless. But a small holiday makes me aware of an emptiness that echoes when it’s over. Like an ache or a reminder that it wasn’t whole. That if things were different, then things would be different. That it wasn’t enough. A missed opportunity. A lost possibility. A Labored Day.

 

7 Comments for “A Labored Day ”

says:

So many people have the ability and opportunity to make holidays memorable for the kids, but some choose to be selfish and think only of themselves. You are doing great, we all want a nap, occasionally. Stop feeling so guilty, your kids will remember the good times and will not focus on the missed hiking trips, beach trips, etc.
It is great that you have started running, great stress reliever.
Sending many prayers for Tiff, you and the kids

Judy Smith

says:

Jeremy, your stories are both painful and hilarious. I love reading them each week. I continue to pray for your family, especially for your wife. God bless you.

Jordan

says:

Hey Jeremy.

You took the words right out of my mouth. The little holidays are the hard ones. I am by myself with my kids these days, and I was dreading Labor Day for the same reason. The little holidays, for some reason, magnify the emptiness. Thankfully, some friends invited us over, and I didn’t have to spend Labor Day alone.

I just wanted to speak up, because I was surprised to hear someone talk about Labor Day in the same way I was viewing it. You are definitely not alone.

I think about your family often, and pray for you guys.

Jenice

says:

Maybe because of social media, everyone feels like they must being making memories all the time, documenting them with photos and videos, posting and sharing. There is nothing wrong with taking it easy, telling the kids to go out and play, watching some football, etc. in fact, I think kids today have too many structured activities and not enough free time. If you remember, there were always kids out and about in Edenwood, riding bikes or playing whiffle ball, whatever, just hanging out. It would be great if we could get back to that.

Sharon

says:

Love, love, love your blog! Prayers for each one of you as you live life to the fullest! Jeremy you are awesome in everything you do! The kids love every minute they get with you and will always appreciate every single memory of your bountiful time spent with family (even if you take a nap)! Love & Prayers!

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