A bit of personal history is needed, though this is difficult to write, and I am not sure that I should share this information. But it is part of my life, and part of what many others may have experienced, or are experiencing, in their lives. Perhaps my story can be an illustration of how things may resolve in such a situation.

Over ten years ago my wife and I separated. After having gone through a period of relationship instability due to my wife’s uncertain re-connection with an old flame, I actually stumbled upon someone myself with whom I fell in love. After a short time actually living with this person, our relationship had to necessarily devolve to a long-distance relationship. Though we were committed to each other, it was not the ideal situation. It was six years before we would be together again in person for a short two weeks. Sadly, our relationship ended when she passed away in 2014.

During this period, both the new person in my life and I decided that we would not pursue a divorce. If our spouses wanted to, we would go along with it, but we did not want to create any more hardship for our spouses than we already had. So all through those nine years, we were both married to others.

Though we were separated, I never totally “left” my wife. No, we were not living together, and I was in another committed relationship, but I tried to be there for my wife when things came up that she could not handle on her own. One might think that this may have been a result of a guilty conscience, but it was not. The truth is much simpler. Since 1967, my wife and I have been best friends. Yes, I married my best friend, and when you do this, even a separation involving another person does not keep you from caring about your best friend, or at least that’s the way it was for me.

After the person I left my wife for passed away, I was devastated. I was going through the motions of living day to day, feeling that my future had left me. In truth, even when she was alive, we didn’t have a definite plan for our future. We just assumed that somewhere down the line we would be together after I retired. Obviously this would not be.

It was a year after her death, almost to the day, before I was able to open my eyes and look at my life. I was a sixty-four year old man, still looking for . . . something. Thinking about relationships, I had to ask myself what I thought I was going to find that would make me happy.

Through our period of separation, both my wife and I learned a lot about ourselves that we could not have learned if we had continued to live together. We have both changed, I think, for the better. Looking forward, I started to realize that what my wife and I could have could be the right path. As my mind opened, and as my wife and I began to establish a more “normal” relationship, I became convinced that we should get back together. A few months ago we made a commitment to re-establish our relationship, or more correctly, establish a new relationship based on all that we have learned in the last ten years. When my lease is up I will be moving back in with her.

At Christmas time during this period of separation, though there was never a time that we didn’t spend at least a few hours together with our son on Christmas day, there were times that I spent most of Christmas alone. There were also times that I was more of a guest at the Christmas celebration than an active participant. This Christmas was different. This was the first Christmas in a long time that I spent time with with my wife preparing for the holiday, and it was a very enjoyable time.

As this would be the first Christmas that our daughter-in-law would be spending with us, we decided that we wanted to get a real Christmas tree, as we had years ago. What a laugh, though. We used to go out and cut our own tree, so we decided to do that again. Well, things ain’t what they used to be, and the place we usually go for this has been picked over pretty well and doesn’t seem to be as well-maintained as it used to be. We wandered the fields, looking for the right tree, walking though weeds, water and mud (my wife managed to lose a shoe in the mud, more funny than anything else), but we finally gave up. Since the same place was selling cut trees that came from elsewhere, and they looked a whole lot better (and cost a whole lot more), we gave up and bought one of those. It was fun to be out doing this again.

Without going into endless detail, we decorated the tree together, worked on cleaning and preparing the house, putting up the Christmas decorations and all. We even found time to sit down on Christmas Eve and wrap presents while we watched Christmas Vacation (an absolutely necessary holiday tradition). On Christmas day my son and DIL showed up in the morning and we opened presents after having breakfast. Then we all worked on getting the meal together. As usual, there was a wrinkle in things (the damn turkey just would NOT get done) that delayed dinner, but it all worked out well and our extended family (17, 16 people? can’t remember for sure) was well fed and seemed to enjoy themselves.

So this was a good Christmas, and a happy one. Though I miss those who are no longer here, I have hope that there are Christmases yet to come that will be as good, and better. A big part of that will be the fact that I am back together with my wife. Here’s to fond memories of the past, and to all the enjoyment that I expect the future to hold. I hope you had a Merry Christmas, too.