Tis the happiest time of the year. Or is it? For most of us the joy brought on by the holidays can’t be squashed by even the grumpiest person around. This is the time of year where there are extended breaks from work, twinkling lights, large decorated trees and Santa’s around every corner. Snowmen, reindeer and garland. Copious amounts of sweets and extra time with our families and friends. I grew up in a household where Christmas was a big deal, it was magical.
This tradition is something I have tried to recreate for my own family but with the holiday season also come extra stressors. This is a time of year when loss becomes more apparent. Financial stressors are of epidemic proportions. You try desperately to fulfill your children’s every want and desire which brings on added layers of stress. Stress often comes hand in hand with anxiety. And for me this year there is some anger.
What has changed? This is the second holiday season without Daniel but this year the shock is gone. The haze that I walked through the first eighteen months has lifted. Now a red haze is trying to blanket my season and not a happy candy cane red haze. It is taking a concerted effort to not let the anger take over. This is a difficult task for me as I have always been quite fiery, something I will blame on the color of my hair. The unfairness of the situation is strong. I am ready for a fight.
I fully understand that this is not fair either. I have two choices here. I can continue to be angry and let the haze settle over my home and set in for the next several weeks or I can choose to fight back against this stage of grief.
I choose to retrain my brain. Anyone can do this. I choose to continue to move forward, as little as though steps may be, I choose to stay in forward motion. I am shifting my mindset and I am vowing this season to do several things:
I know how difficult the holidays can be, but it’s up to you what you make of them.
“What kind of fun things does daddy like to do in heaven? Is daddy going to get bigger in heaven? How do we get him things on his birthday? Can I give him this picture I made him today at school? Are you going to go to heaven? And will I be here all alone if you leave me?”
Daniel has been heavily on Lucas’s mind this week. Each afternoon he has climbed in the car and the questions just start flowing. I answer each one with the best educated guess I can. “Yes, daddy is slamming home runs in heaven. Yes, he is watching football religiously. Yes, he is catching the big one. He is jumping through the waves. He is exploring. Yes, I believe daddy is doing all of the things he loves to do in heaven.”
“No however, he is not getting bigger. But we can celebrate his birthday any way you want to.” “But it’s his birthday; he should get to choose what we do.”
(Big sigh) Are there any magical answers here? Am I missing something? Am I stating the right things? Giving the correct responses? I never really know. As far as I am aware no one here on Earth has been to Heaven and returned? This is all conjecture on my part. I try to make these illogical conversations logical to a five year old and I know better than to lie. I know that it will be his nature to question me later. He will remember these questions he asks me.
“I hope that one day I will go to heaven Lucas. I do not plan to leave you, but like with daddy we don’t know when it will be our time to go and he didn't want to leave us either. I promise you that there will be people here that will take care of you if I have to go to heaven to be with daddy. And yes, you could go live with Aunt Chas.” (This evokes a large smile.)
We talk about Daniel as often as we can. I am believer in helping support the memories. Lucas does remember activities with his dad. He does remember wrestling. He does remember playing on his tablet with him. But his memories are fading.
What these conversations between the two of us remind me of is to be thankful for the time that we have. To try and celebrate life as best I can; and to create the most magical moments within my reach for the both Lucas and Reed, as often as I can. Most importantly I do not take my time here for granted.
As an aside, I want to share a moment from Lucas’s week at school. I am fortunate to have him in a program that works with high school students who are earning an early childhood credit. I discussed with the teacher, who I know personally, that if there were any opportunities to pair Lucas with a male I would appreciate it. I was not asking for any special treatment, just for her to be cognizant of meeting that need that both of my boys need fulfilled. To my knowledge times are scheduled for high school students to integrate into his program during their block scheduling. Lucas came home earlier in the week and reported that he had seen Mike today. I don’t know Mike, but upon asking his teacher about it I learned that Mike is a senior who came to spend his lunch period with Lucas to read to him. This may not sound like a big thing but it was huge for him. It was Mike’s personal free time that he chose to give to our son.
It’s not always the big gestures. Giving your time or sharing a thoughtful word with someone goes a very long way. I can only hope that I am raising our boys to be as giving and thoughtful toward others. Thank you Mike.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.