My husband and I used to participate in musical theater productions when we were younger. The year of 1990 we were in “The Gospel According to Scrooge”. Picture Scrooge with a Christian twist.
We and our children were at the church for hours every week during rehearsals. When the play started, we just took off our makeup and costume, went to bed, got up and got ready for the next performance.
Oh, and did I mention I had just had our third daughter on September 13th of that year? I was suffering from postpartum depression, but tried to keep anyone from knowing that. Bad mistake.
Our last performance was on Dec 22. My husband wanted his mother and us to go see his aunts. That would have been a nice idea, but it involved me packing for myself and three little ones for the trip, and to be ready to return to go to my parents’ house for Christmas Eve. This is our traditional time together, and I had never missed one.
The other issue was that he wanted to leave right after the performance on the 22nd, which meant we would leave about 11:00 pm, having the mini-van packed and ready to go.
This is where my postpartum blues caused me to pretty much fall apart. I sat in the back of the van, giving my mother-in-law the front seat. No one still knew what I was dealing with, but I quietly cried myself to sleep in the minivan. I was exhausted and this was too much for me.
When we arrived at the home where the sisters had gathered near Huntsville, Alabama, I stayed in my room most of the time with my baby. It was nice to have a reason to isolate myself. I knew I would say and do harsh things. I was even mean to my 7 and 3 year-old girls when they spilled their cereal. That was not me. I was always patient with my girls over accidents.
I was so glad to head home Christmas Eve morning. If I could just get to be with my family, I thought I would feel better.
We left early, and stopped at the Opryland Hotel for lunch and to walk through the conservatory.
We got back in the van and I was desperate to get home. Just a few miles into Kentucky, our van broke down and we pulled onto the shoulder of the interstate. There was snow on the ground, but my husband thought we should look for a home where we could call for help (no cell phones at that time).
We climbed a barbed wire fence with my husband’s help. I had my baby wrapped in blankets and the snow sloshed into my flats, not a good choice for outdoor activities.
We found a home and a man was kind enough to let us in. My husband called his dad to come pick us up. We were about two hours from home.
While my husband was calling, we sat quietly. The girls’ eyes were big as saucers as they looked around the room. There were guns everywhere!
The man was very kind to take us to a truck stop that was staying open 24 hours even through the holidays.
We found an area where we could sit together. The hours moved by slowly, and I realized that we were probably not going to make Christmas Eve with my family.
The lowest point of this journey was when I had to nurse my baby. (Thank goodness she wasn’t a formula baby.) There was no private place to go, so I did my best to cover her with a blanket and nurse her where we sat. I though to myself, “I am nursing my baby in a truck stop sitting with a bunch of truck drivers on Christmas Eve. I have come to a new low!”
Fortunately, my father-in-law arrived about that time, and we all scrambled into his custom luxury van. He drove us back to our minivan so that we could get our things.
When we arrived back in Louisville, it was close to ten o’clock. I called my mom tearfully to let her know we were safe and that I was sorry to have missed the family. She told us to come on over. Everyone had waited so that we could be with them on Christmas Eve!!!
I guess all is well that ends well, but that is still my least favorite Christmas.