Christmas, as well as the rest of the holidays ended up less difficult than I expected. But, in retrospect, I’m not surprised. When it comes to the grief, it’s more about the loss in my normal daily routine, and less about a day or two out of the year that was out of the ordinary. Granted, it’s still not easy, and there are a lot of special memories tied to Christmas due to the specialty of those days, but I think I probably already dealt with a lot of those feelings before the day came.
However, I am less than satisfied with the amount of preparing I feel like I did. I’ve had a lot of people asking me if we started any new traditions or things like that. I’m sad to say that we didn’t start anything that I think will particularly “stick” in future years. I feel like I didn’t give it enough thought and in some ways want a do-over.
What we did do was to attempt to read the Christmas story out of the kids’ Bible and then talk a little bit about Mommy. The kids were so distracted, though, it was more a practice in patience for me as I talked about Mommy through misty eyes. I then lit a candle to represent Mommy’s presence as we opened presents. Thanks to a suggestion from someone, I was able to designate a couple gifts as coming from Mommy, which I think is a fabulous idea that I plan to use in the future. The “Mommy” gifts this year weren’t purchased with that in mind, unfortunately, so I think that lessened the meaning it had for me; and the kids didn’t really connect with the sentiment, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me.
I guess to think about it now, I realize how disappointed I am in myself and how much I don’t stack up to Stephanie. She was always the one to plan all the gifts and she planned things out so wonderfully. She had a great gift idea for nearly everyone on our list and she would wrap each one with such care and beauty and personalize it in some way. I know there’s no way I can match what she did, but I really feel like I dropped the ball on Christmas.
I know I might be expecting a lot from myself less than 2 1/2 months after my wife died, but I know myself and can’t help but fear that I won’t give it my best if I don’t expect a lot from myself. I don’t want to take the chance of getting into a habit of doing the bare minimum. And I want to honor Stephanie and try to carry on her legacy. I don’t feel like I did that this Christmas, that’s for sure.
I realized that I never mentioned anything about how Thanksgiving went for me. A lot of that has to do with how the days have gone since then – they’ve been busy and I end my day just needing to do nothing besides maybe watch TV.
Overall, Thanksgiving went pretty well. My mom put out a candle and lit it before we prayed. I’m so thankful that she did that and thought of it. It’s a great way to remember her, and yet I hadn’t even thought about it. At that point, though, I started weeping pretty hard and just had to put my head down and let the tears fall. I certainly didn’t eat as much as I have in past years. Later that day, we played a card game, which was great because I love games and had fun with that. The day ended pretty uneventfully.
The next day was spent at home putting up the tree and a few other decorations, which also went surprisingly well for the most part. Strangely enough, the hard part for me during the day was not the Christmas decorations. It came at a moment where I was looking for the last box of ornaments that I had missed during my earlier journeys to the attic. I saw a box which contained a large Jim Shore pumpkin that Stephanie got from my parents last year for her birthday. Having a fall birthday, it was always her favorite time of year and she had so much joy putting up fall decorations. Seeing this pumpkin made me remember her excitement about such things and that she never got to put up those decorations this year. She only had one year to enjoy this pumpkin that she was so excited to get, and that had me weeping in the attic for a little bit.
The rest of the weekend was spent seeing “Tangled” with the kids and their cousins, hanging out with friends and their kids, and getting pictures taken. I’m happy to say that it really did go pretty well.
Regarding the pictures, I had a couple 8x10s printed of Stephanie in order for us to include them in our shots. Halle took notice and was all about touching the picture and smiling at Mommy. She looked at me to hear me tell her that it was Mommy. It was sweet and she was just happy to see Mommy’s face. I was unsure if she would get upset, but she didn’t. I have every intention of getting some photo books for the kids, and this just affirms that idea.
So many people showed so much love for me at such a time, and I appreciate it so much. I do hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving spent with family and that it was a time to relax and just enjoy your loved ones. I know the holidays can be stressful with family, but I pray that Thanksgiving and the future holidays can be a time of happiness with your families and appreciation for having them.