There’s a recurring phrase that is uttered throughout this time of year. Not to each other, it’s not a common phrase like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year” . . . nothing like that. It’s a phrase that I hear a lot . . .and it’s not just me. I know others who lost their spouse and they get it too:
“It must just be so hard this time of year.”
Well . . . sure, it’s kind of hard. But the thing is it’s not as hard as you think.
I know, I know, I’ve written about this before, here and on Good Enough Mother.
Still, I think it’s worth exploring just one more time.
Fall and Christmas are my favorite times of the year, they always have been. I absolutely marvel at the change in the scenery, the firey red leaves and the muted earth tones that nature herself foists upon us as the weather turns colder. The hardest part of the year . . . and it’s no coincidence that the blog started right then . . . was the fall that first year. I love the crisp change in the season and the ability to put on a warm sweater and then find the person you love and just hold them. It’s not sexual, it’s not lascivious, it’s sensual. It’s loving and close and just . . . warm, inside and out. I loved walking and hearing the leaves crunch under our feet. I loved making drinks after and warming up and relaxing and starting a fire and just enjoying the season.
Christmas was the same. It was stressful, painful, difficult, expensive, and just plain ridiculous. I loved every m
inute of it.
That first Fall and Christmas were really hard for me and I don’t remember much about them. Sure, I remember the presents and how the kids reacted, but the season? Nothing.
But we made it through the cold. It was a hard fought year, not one without its own stresses, but we made it. We’re okay. That’s hard for people to understand or believe, that we could possibly be okay. I get that, it’s hard to imagine what you would do if the circumstances happened to you. I didn’t have to imagine.
Still, last Christmas was great. This one . . . though we don’t have as much money and I couldn’t get us out to visit my folks . . . it’s still great. Why? The kids and I are together and that’s all that matters. We’re stronger together than when we’re apart.
As much as I love this time of year, last year I still woke up every morning having to adjust to the emptiness next to me in the bed. This year I get up and do my routine. That’s not losing her, that’s living with living without her.
It was important to me . . . the kids . . . all the family that we not lose the holidays to our loss. It would be so easy to despair and make it a horrible time of year. Instead, we embraced the holiday. We bought the tree, we listened to Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas record, and we didn’t let little things get to us.
Tonight I made two pies, tarts and cookies. We have the stuff for Christmas meal. We have the stuff we need for the holiday. I’m not sad, I’m excited. The routines that could have killed us I embrace and enjoy.
So tomorrow night . . . well, tonight, since it’s now after Midnight as I write this, I’ll prepare for the big guy in the red suit to get credit for being the Christmas hero. I’ll do what I’ve done every Christmas Eve since we lived in Texas . . . I’ll turn on one of my favorite movies – The Apartment with Jack Lemmon, and ready the house for Santa’s presents. I’ll take a moment to realize my own Miss Kubelik isn’t here but still love every minute of the exhaustion that the season brings with it. Sure, I’ll have twinges and memories. That wound inside will always have moments that hurt. Sights, smells, songs, even routines and traditions will bring that. But it’s about remembering and honoring as much as it is moving forward. The kids and I deserve to have great, happy, Merry Christmases.
It’s not about loss, you see. It’s about life.