For the first time in a long time, I am truly excited about Christmas.
When you are dealing with grief from parent loss, even years after your parent is gone, the holidays are an especially difficult time.
For the last 8 years or so, I feel as if I have gone through the motions and celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas because that’s what everyone else around me was doing. Underneath the surface, though, there was a large part of me that wanted to just get through the holiday season and into the new year as quickly as possible.
This year is different. I am actually looking forward to decorating, Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, visiting family, doing generous things for others, and simply enjoying the spirit of the season.
I don’t know exactly what changed this year because I still miss my mom very much — the desire to have her here is a feeling that will forever be present in my life.
A friend pointed out that perhaps the holiday season is more enjoyable this year because I am getting older, starting new traditions, and creating new memories with Justin in the life we are building together.
I think there is some truth to that. Because I spent three years working in the newspaper industry and Thanksgiving and Christmas were holidays I was required to work, Justin and I hadn’t celebrated a winter holiday together (living together) until last year. And because we hadn’t yet started working on our own traditions, I was still clinging tightly to the ones I desperately missed.
Christmas 2015 was the first in our townhouse — moving from a one-bedroom apartment, this place felt like a palace. Even then it felt like we were starting to get into a groove of this is how we do the holidays together; this is what Christmas looks like as Justin and Hali.
Feeling more stable with my job and our home definitely plays a huge role in the excitement I feel for Christmas this year, and I am thrilled to be hosting Christmas Day festivities at our house for the first time.
I am finally starting to feel OK with the fact that my life will never be the same — that Christmas will never be the same as it was when my mom was alive. In realizing and internalizing that, I am able to let go of those traditions we spent two decades building as a family and enjoy them as memories as Justin and I start creating holiday cheer in our own way.
But, it’s like I have said before, nobody gives you a handbook on grief when someone you love dies. There are no hard and fast rules on what you’re going to feel at various stages of your life. You truly just learn to process the emotions as they come.