Grief Journey through Christmas

What a difference a year makes…. The first Christmas after my cousin’s death was it’s own kind of Christmas.  I honestly remember very little of last Christmas.  I was trying to think back, since this is our second Christmas with the Middles.  While I don’t remember much about last Christmas, I can say I know some things that are different this  year.

This year as we went to the Christmas tree farm it was familiar to everyone.  A treasured tradition that everyone was excited for.  As we arrived and started out there was a peace about us all, a peace in the knowing.  Last year it was so apprehensive, The Middles had never had a real Christmas tree before, never cut down a tree, never been to a Christmas Tree Farm.  It was all new to them.  This year, it was familiar.  Last year we didn’t know how doing the tree would affect us all emotionally, so many emotions are tied up with holidays.  We knew we had to make it through the holiday, and we hoped we would do more than “make it through”, but we also knew there would be moments of deep sadness.

And there were moments of deep sadness.  It was so unbearable at times.  I think that’s why I don’t really remember it. It’s a coping mechanism, but it’s a mixture of good and bad.  Now that we are a year past that first Christmas I do wish I remembered more of our first Christmas together.

Last year I wanted desperately to have a good Christmas with fun traditions and smiles and memories.  Just as other Christmases had been.  It was also my son’s first Christmas with his wife.  It was a special time.  And I have very few memories.   One thing I do remember, and deeply regret is that I was operating from a short string.  Where has the fun mom gone?

When the kids got too excited, mom was irritated.

When the kids were loud, mom was irritated.

When my husband had to work late, I was irritated.

When I was interrupted while trying to wrap presents, I was irritated.

Irritated was the general theme.

My fun filled, memory making Christmas instead was a crashing, burning end to a very, very difficult year.

This year I hope for different, but I’m already feeling the anxiety and stress build up.  I feel behind on the Christmas shopping, I feel overwhelmed with my calendar, and I’m seeing little opportunity for rest, and reflection, and I fear we are headed for the same type of holiday as last year.

So,this week my plan is to do my best to finish up the Christmas presents and prepare for Christmas as much as possible.  What I haven’t purchased yet I will attempt to order online and even let the vendors wrap whenever possible.  We have one week left of school, and I’m setting a deadline for myself of preparing for rest.  I want Christmas to feel like a Sabbath, not a circus this year.  I lack margin in my schedule, and this has been a continual problem not just for this month, or even this year, but for several years.  I’ve spent this year focused on the word “reduce”, and I’ve been working on reducing my calendar as well.  This will take some more time to get to a healthy balance, but I can already see how the little bit I’ve eliminated has helped.

It is worth my time to make time for rest.

This year, I hope, will be different from last.  It already is in many ways.  I’m hopeful that the most marked difference is in our ability to find peace.

Love, Semalee

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