Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Different Kind of Christmas

Poor neglected blog. I really did think I've have more to say. I guess the words, like the grief, will come in waves. We'll ride that out, too.

Today is Christmas; my fourth without my girl. Much of the last two months has been consumed by thoughts of this day: what would we do? how would we manage? who would we see? would it still be so hard? Christmas stings especially because it had always been so wonderful. Christmas Eve dinner at the in-laws, midnight Mass, a few hours of sleep before we tumbled out of bed - too excited to wait - and dragged a way-too-sleepy Daddy to the tree. Presents (always too many, always beloved), breakfast, and then a large family gathering of grandmothers, brothers and sisters, and piles of nieces and nephews. In what I have come to think of as the 'good years' (and, no, I wasn't wise enough to call them that then) we hosted that gathering and the house was filled with laughter and love.

The first Christmas after Britt died, we opted out. Completely. No decorations, no gifts, no visits, no feasts. Just interminable hours wishing the day would end. The second year was worse. No longer marking 'firsts', reality was sinking in and the idea of Christmas after Christmas after Christmas with this huge gaping hole was almost more than I could bear. Last Christmas we decided to decorate, but I couldn't bear the thought of pulling out the ornaments she'd made or the Santa collection she'd loved. In one trip to Wal-Mart, I procured an entirely new Christmas look: blue and silver ornaments on a sleek and slender pre-lit fir, blue lights for the front porch, and a star to replace the angel who used to perch atop our tree.

This year, Christmas seemed to stalk me. Decorations started showing up in stores before Halloween, there was much tussle in the office about who was taking time off and who wasn't and what was fair; everywhere I turned, there was Christmas. And, really, I tried hard to be interested. I ordered wrapping paper and planned presents for the Little People in my life. I retrieved the Blue Christmas trappings from the attic...and brought down a few of our old things as well. There's a mercury glass Santa who looks gorgeous next to the blue & silver bedecked tree; some lovely spun-glass hummingbird ornaments that work nicely; even the chunk of lucite engraved 'Baby's First Christmas ~ 1985' found a place this year.

And yet. And still. Not so much with the 'spirit of Christmas.' That seems to have vanished along with my faith and it leaves an odd space to fill. When you have spent a lifetime celebrating the birth of Christ and you can no longer say with any certainty (or even any interest) that you believe God exists, Christmas becomes a bit of a boondoggle. Less about a celebration, and more about what to do with this day. This year, we tried minimal presents, a movie, and a nap. The seats at the the theater threw my back into a spasm and my nap included a heating pad...but overall, it wasn't a terrible way to spend a day. A different kind of Christmas, indeed.


Jesse Wiedinmyer said...

Negative space is fun shit, eh...

I'd wish you a Merry Christmas, but that doesn't seem so appropriate.

I'd tell you to hang in there, but I often wonder why we bother. And it's probably presumptuous of me to think that you'd need anyone to tell you that. As if there were anything else to do.

Debi said...

Well, I'm having a hard time defining "appropriate" these days, and mostly opt to lazily go with convention. So, Merry Christmas, sweetheart. By which I mean I really hope that things in your life are smoothing out, that you are surrounding yourself with people who are worth your energy, and that reasons to keep bothering are getting easier to come by.

Kaethe said...

Less about a celebration, and more about what to do with this day.

One way or the other, it's all about a child. I hope you're able to find a way to honor the holiday and give it meaning again.

Anonymous said...

Debi, I'm glad you posted about your Christmas. Remember what Kate said about your back mirroring your struggles. I hope the time soon comes when the spasms will be done.