I’m approaching the second holiday season since Willie died. Last year was a complete departure from the “usual” holiday festivities. In place of our standard decorations and baking and dinners and being together… christmas tree decorating and presents and stockings… instead of all of that there was nothing. I chose it that way. I did try to put up a few decorations but it felt wrong and made me more sad than anything else. Last year was the christmas season that I just wanted to not happen. Myself and the older boys made the decision to not have a tree, to not exchange presents and to forego the turkey dinner that I did every year. Instead we had chinese food, went for a hike christmas morning and enjoyed our time together. It was unlike any other holiday season and it was good in its own way. It felt right that it was so different since it felt so wrong for it to be happening without Willie.
This year, as I am starting to forge into really seeking joy again and figuring out how to live with grief and missing Willie but also at the same time have happiness in my life again I find myself asking a lot of questions. Questioning not only the holiday season traditions that I bucked last year but so much more in my life.
Sticking with holiday thoughts for now though…
I’ve spent the last month or so growling about holiday decorations in store windows and flinching at christmas songs. Part of me hates the holidays because of what is lost. The togetherness, the family time and the traditions that are gone now that I loved so much. The feelings that I used to have when we got out the tree and decorated the house. The kids all over the house because school was out… the baking and the stupid christmas movies we would watch every year together. All of that now gone and the hurt of it being gone is symbolized for me in every christmas song that I used to hum along with and every glittery wreath that used to make me giddy that it was the holidays.
It snowed here the other day, Just a little bit; but it was enough to make my walk home feel brisk and wintery. I smiled as I walked and actually realized how much I love the snow still – especially since I don’t have to drive :). It brought me that “warm and fuzzy” feeling that I used to get… and this time I just enjoyed it. I didn’t turn from it and hate it because of what wasn’t anymore… I looked at it and saw that the happy of the snow in the streetlights and the crisp in the air could exist in the same space as my grief… that the tears in my eyes just made the snow prettier for that moment as I felt joy in it again.
I went out with a special friend last night and when she suggested going to the Empress to see the Festival of Trees on display my gut instinct was to say no… but instead I said yes. We went and strolled and looked at the Christmas trees all lit up and decorated and it was nice. A little sad for me as I remembered times spent with the boys as we would set up our own tree, but I let myself look inside and see what I was feeling… and it was happiness. Enjoying something that I didn’t know if I ever would be able to again.
A little start towards re-examining what it is that still makes me smile and what new things I’ve discovered that do as well. The biggest joy is finding that I have the ability to feel that still.
And to wrap it up… one of my favourite holiday songs… just because it still makes me smile to hear it…