So this is Christmas…

My first Christmas without Mike. It didn’t feel like a holiday at all. I faked my way through Christmas Eve, went to church with my mom and my brother, then we drove around looking at Christmas lights. It all left me cold, completely unmoved. When we got home, I fixed us all hot chocolate and spiked mine liberally with Bailey’s Irish Crème. That was our Christmas Eve tradition, Mike’s and mine, hot chocolate with Bailey’s. It didn’t taste the same without him.

Today was pretty much the Christmas that didn’t happen. My brother went to bed last night with a scratchy throat and woke up feeling really sick with flu-like symptoms. He got up in the afternoon just long enough to wrap up in a blanket and watch “Scrooged” (the Bill Murray movie) with us, but otherwise he stayed in bed all day. Mom and I didn’t want to open presents without him, so they’re all still sitting on the breakfast bar. I really wasn’t in the mood for presents anyway. We watched “A Christmas Story” and made phone calls to family. I didn’t even want to talk to anyone, really, except my parents-in-law, who I knew would get it. It’s not Christmas without Mike.

“They’re singing Deck the Halls, but it’s not like Christmas at all. I remember when you were here and all the fun we had last year.” I can’t stop remembering other Christmases, like the first one in our apartment with a new tree and four monogrammed stockings and the kids coming over for Christmas dinner. Or last year when my father-in-law was with us and I tried so hard to make it special, even though we were broke. So many treasured moments, like decorating the tree with the kids, Mike hanging mistletoe over the door, and Aja helping me make Christmas dinner. Last year we were a family. I felt bad that we had so little money for gifts, but I was sure we’d be in a better place by this Christmas. It’s shocking how fast it all can change, how your entire world can be ripped away from you just like that.

My oldest sister was the first to call today and wish us a merry Christmas. She’s in the middle of some pretty big life transitions, preparing to leave her job and sell the house she and her husband have lived in for twenty years, to move across the country and start a new job. I asked how it was going and she said, “It’s really stressful. But it’s nothing like what you’ve had to do this year and none of it by your own choice. You’re my role model for handling difficult transitions with grace.” I was touched by that. As the youngest in a family of five, it’s pretty cool to hear that you’ve become a role model for the eldest. But damn it, I never asked to be a role model, an inspiration. I just wanted to be a wife, to build a life with the man I loved. I’d give anything to turn back time and have just one more kiss under the mistletoe.

But there’s no Christmas miracle that can bring back what I’ve lost. I can’t live in the past. All I can do is go forward, getting through one holiday at a time. In the words of Greg Lake, “I wish you a hopeful Christmas. I wish you a brave New Year. All anguish, pain and sadness leave your heart and let your road be clear.” I wish that for myself, too.

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~ by hourbeforedawn on December 25, 2010.

One Response to “So this is Christmas…”

  1. Hugs, my friend. These “firsts” really suck, especially when last year at this time seems so close in time. Keep hanging in there.

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