My Son Will Be Home for Christmas…If Only in My Prayers

2018-12-25T17:48:47+00:00December 25th, 2018|Blog, Christ, Our Lady & the Saints|

(Above: G.P. Paltz, “The Prodigal Son,” early 20th century.)

For this child did I pray, and the Lord hath granted me my petition, which I asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:27)

When I was a boy, I only wanted toys for Christmas. My yearly letter to Santa Claus listed whatever trendy space ships, laser-guns, or actions figures that were being marketed to children in order to promote Stars Wars, Battlestar Galactica, or the Six Million Dollar Man. If, for some reason, I unwrapped a present under the tree and discovered a sweater, a jacket, or a blanket – I ungratefully stuffed it back into the box and threw it in the corner. Like the rest of my gifts, my parents had sacrificed in order to give them to me. I didn’t know that. Usually by the time my birthday rolled around in April, I was bored with the toys I received at Christmas and I wanted some new action figure playset that looked incredibly realistic on the TV commercial but rather cheap and flimsy in real-life. Yet, for a while, I could make-believe that I had been transported to some far away galaxy. However, I always dropped back to earth.

The sweater that I received, although I loathed it, kept me warm through the winter. I took it for granted. I forgot where it came from; it was just there, I thought.

I was a somewhat lonely and sad kid. I had few male friends and lacked the bold confidence that resulted in many young boys falling out of a tree or off a skateboard. I usually chose to stay safe on the sidelines and draw little pictures – I enveloped myself in the realm of fantasy. But I was perpetually cold and lonely. When I was old enough to venture out into the world alone, I went in search of my dreams. Returning home, with a brand-new toy, I wanted everyone around me to share in my happiness. A year later, I showed up with someone else. I expected that my request for approval should be met with almost immediate fulfillment. Instead, my parents gave me a sweater. Like a petulant spoiled brat, I threw it away. I loathed that sweater when I was a boy; now, I loathed the truth.

I didn’t go home. Why should I? I didn’t get what I wanted. Year after year, a present was placed under the tree with my name on it. I didn’t unwrap a single one. I wanted a plastic toy. I wanted a sign and words of approval from those around me. I wanted everyone to confirm my boyish need to live in a fantasy world. I am Luke Skywalker; I am the Bionic Man; I am gay. Being gay was like the playset I wanted so desperately for Christmas – it was fun for a while, but then I realized something – none of this is real. Finally, I chose to wrap myself in the protective warmth of truth. That which I rejected, when I was suddenly hungry, stripped naked, and left to die, looked incredibly welcoming. I crawled over to that forgotten corner of the room – piled high with rubbish – and dug through the pieces of torn and crinkled wrapping paper, looking desperately for the sweater I tossed away. In my undeniable wretchedness, it was all I had.

The greatest gift that can be given to someone we love – is the truth. The unwillingness of the recipient to receive it, in no way lessens the importance of that gift. When I was a child, because I did not want that sweater from my parents – does not mean that the wool it was made of was any less warm. When I disregarded it – my mother put it lovingly in my dresser. I forgot it was there. On a cold morning, I put it on. Then, in my heart, I was happy to have it. Many years later, when the harsh and bitter winds of reality ripped apart my illusions – I accepted that gift of prayer. One day, your son will return – he’ll appear on the crest of a distant hill – disheveled and dirty. You embrace him. Afterwards, in his old childhood bedroom, he goes back to his dresser – the sweater is still there. Now, I understood how my parents kept and preserved it for me. They sacrificed much on my behalf. Without them, or their gift, I would have froze to death. I put on that sweater – at first, it was scratchy and uncomfortable but I thanked God for it.

12 Comments

  1. Darrick N Taylor December 25, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    This so beautiful. Thank you so much, and a blessed feast of Christmas to you!

  2. Evangeline December 26, 2018 at 1:44 am

    That was inspiring to read, Joseph. Thank you. Merry Christmas to you.

  3. Evangeline December 26, 2018 at 1:44 am

    That was inspiring to read, Joseph. Thank you. Merry Christmas to you.

  4. MARIKAY FREEDMAN December 26, 2018 at 5:41 am

    We are all Prodigal sons and daughters Joseph. Merry Christmas to you and shall we pray together for all to come home to the Father. Mother Mary wrap us in the mantle of your pure love. Joseph you are an inspiration for many in this valley of tears. And may the light of God’s love shine on you this Christmas and forever.

  5. Tony December 26, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Thank you and Merry Christmas. You have helped and are helping me deal with a difficult situation with my son and i am very thankful for that! Thank you very much!

  6. TLM December 26, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Beautiful!!! Really Beautiful!! Merry Christmas Joseph!

  7. Kathy December 26, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you for this Joseph – it is beautiful and transparent and such a light of hope for our family who continues to pray for those who are choosing the toys. It is only by the grace of God that I am able to see the light of Christ and choose Him over my past toys. Thank you for all you do and the courage with which you present the Truth.

  8. Richard Lane Hunter December 27, 2018 at 1:59 am

    That was very uplifting Joseph! Thank you!

  9. Debbie December 29, 2018 at 1:16 am

    I am grateful for your words -as only someone who has lived the life and been through what you have -can truly shed light and truth on what is happening to our sons, daughters and friends. Because of you and your book, I have gained understanding I never would have had-since I do not have these same temptations or inclinations. I have more compassion and am able to tell others about what you have written to spread your story and message-we are all touched by this in some form or another. So I thank you! May God continue to bless you and give you strength and courage to continue your very very important work! Merry Christmas!

  10. Dawn December 29, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    So heart-rending to read, yet you so beautifully capture our journey from selfishness to God.

  11. Alice December 30, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    OMG I have been following you on YouTube but I had no idea you were such a good writer!

  12. Fran Macadam December 31, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Good insights, always useful.

Comments are closed.