Sunday, December 18, 2011

Days of Thanks #25

I am grateful that I have managed to muster up just enough holiday spirit to finally feel like getting some Christmas shopping done. This Christmas has been really hard. I won’t say that it has been harder than last year—it is difficult to imagine a season much harder than that, what with having to endure our first Christmas without Hudson right after having to endure our first celebration of her birthday without her—but it is harder in a different way. My friend Amber recently moved, and one of the first moms she met in her new town had also lost her first child, a little girl. Amber’s friend told her that the second Christmas without her daughter was in some ways harder than the first—she also had a new baby and really wanted to be in the Christmas spirit and enjoy the holiday, but it just didn’t feel right. Hearing this brought me so much comfort. It describes my feelings exactly, and it is always comforting to know that what I am experiencing is not crazy and does not make me an awful, ungrateful person. I do wish that I could enjoy Christmas the way I used to, but such a big part of my heart is and will always be missing, at this and every other time of year. And Christmas is just so very much about our children—I was so looking forward to reliving the magic I experienced at Christmas as a child by celebrating old traditions and creating new ones with my own kids. I know that I will still get to do that with Jackson and any other children we have, and I am so glad for that. But I will never get to share that magic with Hudson, and that will never be right.

So I have been having trouble really getting into the holiday spirit this year. Seeing everyone taking their little girls to see the Nutcracker and decorating gingerbread houses with them and baking Christmas cookies with them—well, it’s just hard on my heart. The other day at Costco, I saw a big sister and little brother sitting next to each other in the two seats on their shopping cart, and I realized that with all the imagining I’ve done, I’d never pictured that scenario before. It hit me right in the gut. That’s what I should have, too. Jackson shouldn’t be sitting alone in the center of his cart as I do my Christmas shopping. His big sister should be sitting next to him, making him laugh and pointing out every single toy she just HAS to have. It is so hard for it to feel like Christmas without her. 

But I have little bursts of spirit here and there. They don’t last very long, but I cherish them and try to make the most of them. That’s how I managed to finally get the tree and the house decorated (over a period of almost two weeks), to crank out some brownies and cookies, and to buy almost all of my Christmas presents in the span of the last two days. I’m not finished yet, and the presents that need to get mailed are probably going to be late, but after skipping Christmas altogether last year, this is at least progress. I’ll take it.


  1. Be kind to yourself. Don't try to meet everyone's expectations - it's impossible.

    It's been a long time since my son died (25 years) and I remember the 2nd Christmas to be worse. I think maybe we are still numb and in shock the first year.

    Keep on keeping on

  2. I know that Christmas would be so hard for me, if I were in your place. It's pretty amazing to me that you are able to carry on the way you do. I know that having Ed at your side and Jackson with you ameliorates the difficulty, but gosh, Mandy, it's just wrong. Hugs.

  3. Mandy, I hope as Jackson gets bigger and begins to be excited about Christmas himself, that you will find a new spark of Christmas spirit. I know you will always miss Hudson and that will always be a sad part of your holidays, but hang on to hope that your spirit will come back. Year four and a three year old helped enormously. I went through the minimal motions (i.e., I bought and wrapped some presents, but no tree, little music, no cookies) before, but this year I thought K. would start to notice and start to feel the magic, more so than last year, and I didn't want her to miss out. I made myself do it (the tree and lights and music) and I found I actually enjoyed it. I hope Jackson will light the way for you when he gets a little bigger and starts to get excited about Christmas.