I couldn’t host Thanksgiving. I can’t reach the Christmas decorations. There are two large pieces of furniture blocking the door to the closet where they are stored. Our elf on the shelf is wearing a hard hat. “The builders need to finish. My kids need a tree!” I keep saying. But actually, the tree can wait.
This morning, I left on a business trip. The airport was playing Christmas music. I wanted it to stop. I’m unprepared for Christmas in more ways than one.
My mother died two months before last Christmas, so this will be the second Christmas without her. Firsts are hard – first holiday season, first birthday, first Mother’s day. We all know that. But seconds are hard too.
Last Christmas, I was brave. I had a holiday season to face after the death of my mother. I had children who had just lost their Nana. I went to my mother’s house and took her Christmas decorations. I gave some to my father, some to my sister and I put some around my house. I was teary when I hung her ornaments, but it made me feel kind of grownup. “Look at me. I’m a responsible adult. I am sharing family traditions with my kids. I am remembering my mother.”
But this year, there’s none of that. I’ve already checked that off my list and made it through the “first.” This year, Christmas without my mother is just my life now – the new normal.
This year, Christmas carols, decorations and even TV specials (my mother looked like Mrs. Claus from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) are not something I can face down and check off. This year they are triggers of memories and reminders of loss, and love, and they make me feel. And I don’t like feeling. I’m so much better at doing.
I’ll get through it. My kids will help. And if all else fails, I’ll just eat my feelings (I’m good at that too). And with every bite of Christmas cookie, I’ll think about my mother. You remember Mrs. Claus’ most famous line from the movie, don’t you? “Eat. Eat.”
If you insist Mum.
Be kind to yourself and others this season. We all have anniversaries and/or memories that can sneak up and surprise us.