December has finally arrived. Some of us found ourselves pulling out the Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving (against our usual habits) for various reasons (none of them wrong), including me.
Last year Christmas came on the absolute heels of Beloved's passing and I could not stand the celebrating spirit. I mean, I really couldn't. It was a very unfamiliar feeling I had, a combination of desperate sadness and anger. I felt a little like Karen Carpenter who sang,
Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
It ended when I lost your love.
When I tried to listen to Christmas music, it made me so angry. I could not handle the joy of the season and would quickly turn it all off.
I've already said in an earlier post a week or so ago that even now I can't unpack my Christmas tree ornaments. Too many memories are tucked between the layers of tissue paper. Happy memories, to be sure, but also a reminder of a time of my life that is forever gone.
I wondered how it would be this year, now that the anniversary of his passing has come and gone. I really didn't know what to expect, and of course, with this being just December 1st, a lot remains to be seen.
Happily, I am glad to report it's better (thus far) than I thought. The fact that all my children were coming to my house for Thanksgiving sort of jump-started me into wanting to at least put on the appearance of happiness if for no other reason than to keep the visit from being a cry-fest.
I found the box with the small ceramic Christmas tree, which was the only tree I wanted last year. Two weeks ago I put it in the guest room where T2 and the Lil' Red-Haired girl slept during the Thanksgiving visit.
Oh by the way, this is how I display the snapshots and school pictures of my family. It's a fish net with the photos clothes pinned to the net. It used to be draped on the upstairs bannister but earlier this year I hung it all on a wall in the guest room. Displayed this way, it's easy to change out the pictures as the little people get older.
Yes, that's a lot of eyes starring at my guests as they sleep! When Terri D came to spend two nights with me a few months ago, she said each morning she just extended her arms heavenward and prayed over everybody! I loved that!
Most of you already know that Terri and I are like 'grieving sisters' because her dear Joe passed from COVID just 3 months after my Beloved. Both of us were caught by surprise when our husbands died. We often share from our journeys with each other. You can check out her blog here: Your Friend From Florida
So with the kids in mind, I began pulling out Christmas decor, just a little, and more so after the Thanksgiving dishes were put away.
I'm still not going all out, keeping in mind that whatever I put out I get to put away when Christmas is over. This is pretty much a one-gal show now with time and energy in short supply some days.
The snow people collection did 'make the cut', so to speak. I mean, who can deny all those smiling faces?
While it's true that Beloved gave me some of the snow people as gifts over the years, unpacking them was akin to welcoming friends who have not been with me for a long time. They stayed in the box last year.
Without snow here in Florida, these friends remind me of the Homeland (Colorado), which is a happy-sad mix. But I don't miss dealing with the cold and the snow after it turns brown from the sand trucks.
One of the many things I've not even searched for is the red and green plaid wooly table cloth that Beloved liked so much. It's in one of the boxes but I don't think I can face it this year.
And his Santa doll; the other day I came across him wrapped and packed in a pillow case. I did not take him out. Last year I had to break it to him the sad news while crying big elephant tears on his red velvet suit. Beloved had that Santa doll since he was a very little boy. Every year after we had the big tree all decorated, he would make a big deal out of placing Santa under the tree. It was cute.
Nope. Not ready to face Santa this year. Maybe next year.
Before Thanksgiving, I let my kids know I was ready to let go of Beloved's extensive collection of paperback science fiction books. The boys took them all, much to my relief, and that left me with a lot of empty shelves. So that necessitated the unpacking of a few more Christmas-themed knick knacks.
While poking around in my pie safe, I was reminded these special plates needed to be put out. That was easy enough to do.
A cross stitch pillow made earlier last year showed up. I have not returned to cross stitching yet, having put it aside when the brain fog of grief made it impossible for me to count my stitches. There's more where this piece came from, but again, I'm not digging into the Christmas boxes any more than I really need to. Not this year.
As for the real meaning of Christmas, yes, I am thinking about that. It occurred to me recently that even if I'm not 100 per cent into the celebration spirit, I should because without Christmas and Easter, I would have no hope of seeing my Beloved again! THAT THOUGHT was like jump-starting me into a better attitude. I am so grateful for this season to reflect on the significance of the birth of Christ.
Yes, I have a Christmas tree. I bought this table-top model from Hobby Lobby late in the summer. I gave our big tree to Surfer Girl's family because I've wanted to downsize on that for years but Beloved was still very attached to the big tree idea. Now that he's not here, there are a few changes I've made to please myself.
I added the lights and the JOY sign and it's done! When not in use, I tuck a large plastic bag over the entire tree and place it in a closet. SO EASY!!! Now I like that idea!!
The Christmas spirit is gradually taking over within me and it feels good. I want to be happy. I really do. Happiness is a choice (much of the time, anyway).
I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, or maybe better phrased, the star atop the tree. Whichever, the Lord is healing my broken heart. Yes, there is a scar there from the grief, but "a peace that passes all understanding" is slipping in and I welcome it.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Until next time, grace and peace.