Christmas tradition? How not driving 5 hours can be a magical thing
I don't like that song "And So This Is Christmas". I never have. For some reason it sounds like giving up. Oh well. Christmas sucks. If Eeyore had a Christmas song, I feel like this would be it. I understand it's supposed to be a song about peace, but to me it sounds sad and defeated.
I know why too. I need upbeat Christmas songs to help carry me along, and to help feign enthusiasm for the moments when talking about our family traditions makes me just so sad. For the past few years we have been trying to form new traditions, now that everything we used to do is not possible. A lot of that time felt like an elaborate coverup- an attempt to make things ok, even when they weren't (see Holiday Safety plan). In a guest post last month, Laura wrote about reinventing holidays now that her husband isn't with her. I think creating new traditions is part of the healing as well, but this year, for the first time since Dad died and Mom got sick, I feel like doing some of those things that really mattered to me.
I feel like cooking the best bread (known as "bally bally rolls" growing up) even though it's time consuming and involves baking with Crisco. I don't want to order all of our food from a local caterer, even if it means plugging Mom's oven back in this year to heat things up. My husband and I sat down and talked in early November this year about what we wanted from Thanksgiving and Christmas. We decided the things that were really important to us and are working to make them happen. So we are having Christmas morning in our home, just the four of us. It's a little thing to most people, but to me it means that I am happy enough that I don't need the noise and distraction of a bunch of other people being over our house. I'm using my Mom's tablecloth as a tree skirt, I'm making the coffee cake she used to make for Christmas day and playing the Nutcracker Suite- something that will always remind me of Dad in his blue bath robe on Christmas day.
I still miss my old traditions. I'm not racing up 95, debating whether or not the Merritt Parkway would be faster. My parents aren't leaving the light on out front, snacks on the counter and good wine in the living room. I miss that so much- that feeling of someone else worrying about your needs, or that you are happy and comfortable. I miss someone else being responsible for the dinner ingredients, to make sure everyone has a present and feels special. It is that feeling of 100% trusting that someone will do what they said they were going to do; do what they have always done. That feeling you get when someone is giving you advice and they know your heart and might know what's best for you even when you can't see it. I only realized after losing Dad and Mom how lucky I have been to have this. I tried to describe what is the core of the loss once and when I did, a good friend with two parents still around said "I can't imagine how good that must have felt".
So today's blog is for everyone who can't imagine how good that feels. I want to encourage you to stop looking for that support where it isn't, and to appreciate it for where it is. For me that means that I am getting my kids' daycare teachers more presents, because they have provided me with the stability to feel good about going to work knowing my children are learning and are well taken care of. I am doing a few extra things to help with our visit to my husband's family, because he has supported me all year with countless visits to Mom/talks about Mom/life. I'm even getting the UPS guy something- because that guy is on point! And I am creating a memory for my own children this year, in our own home. Because I want them to know that while this loss is still so present in my mind, their excitement and love is plenty for me. I want them to remember MY cooking, and the time with our family together.
Just in case you feel like "Wow, that Patti really has it all together", this year I sent out 8 Christmas cards. Not because I got tired (2016) or ran out of stamps (2015), but because I put the card box next to a relaxing lavender candle, went to go to the bathroom real quick and set the kitchen table on fire. As I've tried to remind my husband, it was a very manageable fire, so that should count for something.