Hello my friends! Well, we just said goodbye to Labor Day and depending on where you live in the world, this is oftentimes the end of Summer as we begin to make our way into Fall. And whether we like it or not, it’s here again – time to plan for the holidays. How can we survive the “most wonderful time of the year?”
In our family it’s during this time when we begin talking about what we are going to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know it seems early, but in our local stores, Christmas trees began going up in early August! Argh! While we don’t celebrate Halloween, it seems all three holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all get shoved together and become “HallowThankMas”.
For those walking the grief journey I know many who would prefer to just climb into bed and wake up on January 1st. I understand feeling that way, too.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday of all. It was the one time when we were always together as a family. I miss those happier, simpler times, before death came knocking on my door.
Since Melanie ran ahead to heaven each year has been different. At this stage in my grief journey all that truly matters to me is having my son and daughter-in-love here with us. Since Covid made that decision for us the past 2 years, it felt as if I lost both of my older children during this time and not just my daughter. It’s no longer the holiday, it’s being together which matter most to me.
If you’re contemplating what to do for the holidays and struggling about your decision, the one thing I encourage you to do is this: Do whatever feels right for you!
If that means you don’t feel like cooking for Thanksgiving, then don’t! Order in. If your home was the place where everyone gathered, perhaps this is the year to gather in someone else’s house. If the thought of the meal itself brings anxiety and stress, order pizza!
Christmas can be a stressful time of year, without being in the midst of grief. If you don’t feel like decorating for Christmas, do as much or as little as you like. But do only what you feel you can. Feeling pressured to celebrate and do something you aren’t truly emotionally up for isn’t good for anyone – especially you.
Each Christmas that has passed since Melanie died has been different. I have taken each one as it comes and gone with it. One of the things I haven’t done is decorate like I used to. After the first year, since I had a younger child in the house I felt prompted to make it festive, but it’s still not like it used to be. And do you know what? That’s OK!
Every year we used to have a gingerbread house contest. I thought about it last year, but just couldn’t bring myself to order them and do it. I kept remembering the last time we did it was with my girl and finally gave myself the grace I needed. It was OK.
Some people decide to travel on the holidays. I’ve always thought that would be a good idea and actually began looking at places in Hawaii last week. I am a realist though and I am aware that being in a different location will not remove the pain of our loss. Although I’ve been told it does help to ease the hurt and quell some of the memories. We’ll see if the Aloha state becomes our Christmas destination.
Whatever you decide to do, dear ones, I hope you feel the freedom to do what feels best to your grieving heart. I hope you do not feel pressured to do anything you are not ready to do. Remember, even though others may think it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” it’s truly OK to not be OK during the holiday season. This is grief.