Christmas is such a fun time of year. Everyone is so excited and in a good mood. There are parties almost every night. Lots of drinks. Lots of presents. Lots of fun.
I always loved the holidays. Until my first Christmas without my mom. It was just so awful. Getting up and getting through everyday was so unbearable. Let alone having to deal with everyone’s freaking happy Christmas cheer.
My mom died in October. So we were pretty much thrown right into the holiday season right after losing her. And it was so brutal.
I could not believe how life just went right on. Without us. Without our mom. How could the rest of the world still celebrate like nothing had happened?
My mom loved the holidays. She decorated everything and it always smelled so amazing in our house. She had two Christmas trees. One we were able to enjoy and one we weren’t even allowed to look at, let alone go near.
Our house was just so empty without her. Coupled with the fact that my Dad refused to even get a tree that year. He just wanted to pretend it wasn’t all happening. How could we possibly celebrate Christmas without our mom? She was Christmas.
To add salt to the wound, my mom’s birthday was on Christmas Eve. It made everything that much harder. Instead of celebrating with her and helping her blow out those fifty-five candles, we placed flowers at her grave.
The holiday season just magnified the pain. It went from being the best time of year to the absolute worst time of year. I remember I just kept thinking that if I could get through the holidays, things would be better. Of course they weren’t. But I guess it got me through it.
My Dad was hardest hit by my mom’s death. He refused to do anything for Christmas. So we all sat around staring at each other. Crying. Drinking. Eating the under cooked meat I was in charge of cooking now that my mom was gone.
There were no decorations. No laughter. No smiles. No gifts.
Just all of us praying for the day to end and for that horrible empty feeling to please go away. It took years. I mean lots of years, for that to happen.
The next year things got a little better. It wasn’t that first raw Christmas without her. But then my Dad died and it happened all over. Pure hell.
Now we were orphans having to get through the holidays. Living through another holiday season with unimaginable loss was just cruel. It’s hard to believe in anything to do with Christ after that.
All traditions and happiness were gone from our holidays forever. Nothing would ever be the same. Thank God for our friends. They were all there to drink us through it.
We would start drinking during the day on Christmas Eve and continue until Christmas morning. And if we were lucky, we’d sleep right through Christmas.
This was our new tradition. But we were grateful to still have each other. Looking back, I’m just so glad we got along so well and were always there for one another.
Slowly, we began to grow up as well as sober up. Some more than others, of course.
We all got married to people that the rest of us actually like. It makes things a lot easier. And starting families definitely helped bring the magic of Christmas back into our lives.
My parents now have twelve grandchildren. All who believe in Santa. All who believe anything we tell them. We like to take advantage of that.
We regale them with stories of Christmas past. Like the one year in the orphanage when one of us got peanut butter, one got jelly, and the other one got bread. We had to stick together to make that gift work. The looks on their faces is really what Christmas is all about.
Last Christmas it started to snow right on Christmas morning. I told my kids to look outside for one more present from Grandma and Grandpa. They ran to see. They were amazed. And they really believed that it was a gift from two of the most important people in their lives.
It was the happiest I had been on Christmas in years. It really made me all warm and fuzzy on the inside. I know it may have been the wine I was drinking. But just like the kids, I believe.
Someday they will realize what a liar I am. But until then, I will cherish these happy memories I am creating for them.
We still don’t spend Christmas together. Our new tradition is getting together on another day all together. Just casual. Lots of drinks.
Some traditions never die.
Now that I’ve made it to the other side, my heart aches for my friends that are unable to enjoy Christmas this year. There are so many people hurting. So many people trying to just make it through another day.
Sometimes the only thing you have left is ho ho hope. Life will never be the same again. But you create your new normal. You become a different person. All because of the person who is no longer here.