A long while back I wrote a post about the Collins family:
When I was a kid, my mother and Mrs. Collins, the mother of an equally-aged girl named Lindsay used to take care of a lot of chores together and swap babysitting duties. Both Lindsay and I had fathers that worked at the Air Force Base and mothers that stayed at home. At the time I think we thought we had nothing in common because she was from Mars and I Jupiter (before the men take over Mars and the women migrate to Venus, the girls are from Mars because they’re superstars and the boys are from Jupiter because they’re stupider), but our backgrounds were nearly identical. Her brother Richie was in little league with my brothers Mitch and Ollie, and since they were all from Jupiter, even moreso.
Though our families aren’t as close as they once were, the Collins family throws an annual party on the weekend night before Christmas Eve . I attended this year and was reminded how meticulous the Collins household is. It is in many ways what one would think the perfect family would have. They have a complete Dickens library on the shelf. Beethoven’s works are on the piano. Christmas is more nativity scene and less Santa Claus. There is no television in the living room. The entire place feels like it was geared towards young human development the way that all the experts say that they should be developed. As near as I can tell, that’s the only difference between the Collinses and Trumans, and it speaks better of the former.
The Collins stopped having their annual Christmas Party a few years ago (in fact, the one mentioned there may have been the last one). What used to be a rather full plate of Christmas Eve parties has dwindled and their was actually a good chance for me to see a bunch of old schoolmates and get caught up. I was sad to see it go.
The real tragedy of the Collins family, however, was what happened to their kids (explained in the above-linked post). The daughter joined a religious cult. The son moved hundreds and hundreds of miles away and broke off contact entirely. Upon returning home, I heard that Richie and his parents reconciled. Less than six months later he was diagnosed with a fatal cancer. Less than six months after that (just recently), he died. He was 38. I can only imagine how grateful they are that they were able to reconcile before his death. But before the reconciliation, and before his death, there was at least the potential of reconciliation and life.