Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, it's almost 9 am and my sweet LG is still asleep. We should be preparing to have kids hepped up on sugar and santa and the sheer joy of getting gifts in every room. We aren't. We won't be hosting any guests this Christmas Eve, nor will we be a guest of someone. We will go to church, come home and let LG open the presents family have sent, and eat a feast of some of our favorite finger foods. I have yet to make any cookies and I am determined to make a batch or two today. LG wants to give Santa a Christmas tree cookie. The best way I can describe this Christmas is raw and frustrating. We are on our own for the very first time and it's not that we lacked invitations, I knew I would be grieving and that if I couldn't travel to be with my siblings and mother that space with out distraction would be a good thing.

I started to get into Christmas with LG's excitement. Then our tree fell apart and I still have yet to bake a cookie. Then I was left with 12 end of the semester projects to finish, like finding the floor and sorting the toys before Santa's big arrival.

The grief is complex. Yes I am missing my sister in law terribly, some days I don't think its real. I don't think I really took a whirlwind trip to FL in September and spoke the words that were her funeral. I am also missing our big family Christmas Eve party, which isn't happening because we are all spread out now. I have said I won't travel on Christmas but I might change my mind next year. I highly dislike being with out my family on Christmas and if there is anything this year has reinforced it's that life is short and our Christmases are numbered and should be spent together. I know that I have Paul and LG and they are my own little family but LG barely knows her cousins and that makes me sad. She should know the excitement of giving them their presents not the pain in the ass of standing in line at the post office. I grieve also for those sweet children who died while at school. For the young man who thought there was no way out but death. For the family whose little girl has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I have gone through many of the motions of Christmas, trying to capture the joy when it comes, trying to feign happiness for my daughter so she still looks at all this with the wonder that is only found in childhood. I have found Christmas music depressing, the cookies aren't made and there are many movies that have not been watched as they traditionally would be. Tonight I hope I remember to spread the reindeer food on the lawn, read the night before Christmas and leave the cookies and milk for Santa. I have been rather forgetful.

Today I am grateful for the memories, even when they hurt.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Memory is a Gift

Tonight I took a quick trip to a craft store, I read about a cute advent calendar idea and wanted to price some supplies, I also wanted to look for some supplies for the hand prints we make each year with our daughter. As I was in there I passed some lovely little ornament frames, on sale. I looked them over and did a thing I have been dreading. It seems that each Christmas there is someone else missing. In 2007 when my grandmother passed away, my mom and I made ornaments for each of the grandchildren and children. The following year I did one for people who had passed away a few years earlier. This way they are there with us through the holiday season amid all the glitter and twinkling lights, their pictures hang with smiles in place. My grandparents, my father, my stepfather. Tonight I added my sister in law, bonus sister is a more appropriate term. I cried in the craft store as I picked up the perfect frame for her, with a little date tag, 2012. I doubt I will forget this year, it was going really well and then September the third just happened. Life changed we were all left with heavy hearts that have gaping holes where Donna should be. It is a loss like no other that I have experienced. I have always dreaded the day I would lose a sibling and I can't imagine its much different then what this feels like.
Donna on our tree.

Last Christmas I mourned the loss of our traditional Christmas Eve party. We have all moved to different parts of the country and for the first time in my life I spent Christmas Eve with no siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I find myself at times incredibly sad that my sweet LG will never know the joy that I knew on Christmas Eve. I have tried to think of ways to recreate those memories for her but the truth is, I can't. The people who made those days special have started to move on from this life. With out Grammy, with out Donna it just wouldn't be the same.

Today I find myself incredibly grateful for my gift of memory. I am able to remember parts of life so clearly it is almost as if I am transported back there to another time. LG may never know the Christmas Eve's that I knew but I always have them close to my heart, precious and protected, memories.