Instead of bringing up Christmas to Noel again, I wrote to my father. I told him my worries that ignoring Caleb’s first Christmas without his parents would only make things worse for him, and asked for advice on how to convince both Emmanuel and Noel that we needed to celebrate this holiday, expressing my frustration that they were so reluctant.
Dad wrote back,
My dear Malcolm,
It’a a simple fact of human nature that one becomes accustomed to a certain level of grief. From what you’ve told me of Emmanuel Thibodeaux, I can easily believe he’s so used to his grief that he wears it like a hair shirt. Noel may be fighting against following in his father’s footsteps, but it’s a hard battle. He’s had a lot of grief to cope with, too, and from a very young age. It doesn’t surprise me that Christmas only reminds them of all of those losses and brings no comfort.
But Caleb is a child. His memories of Christmas are nothing but joyful. He needs at least one day a year where love is paramount and the adults around him can believe in wonder.
In your shoes, I would frame the argument this way. This is for Caleb. Noel and Emmanuel can go back to hating each other on Boxing Day, but on Christmas, all they need to remember is their mutual love for him.
Of course we would love to see you at home for Christmas this year, but if you feel should stay with your charge, then you should stay.
As always, his advice seemed like the most sensible thing to do. Christmas was a bad day for all three of them. If I could help them forget, even for a few hours, then any protest over it would be well worth it.
It seemed to me, the best way to do it was to just do it — get a tree and decorations, prepare a meal, buy some records with holiday tunes.
A few days after the letter from Dad, I got another letter, this one from Mary Kate.
I understand from Dad that you’re staying in New Orleans over the holidays. I hope this means you will be a peacemaker for the Thibodeauxes when they most need it. I’m mailing a present to you, and one for Caleb and Noel, too. I feel like I know Caleb already, given what you’ve told me and what I’ve learned from Noel.