I am really looking forward to Christmas this year. Christmas was always a good time in our family for many years. Then a black cloud came and damped it for a while, in fact it totally eclipsed the sun, a spring came that never turned into a summer but now summer is once again apon us as a family. The sun is shining bright.
Events, movies and experience’s can impact you differently depending on what’s happening in your life at the time. I was thinking about how devastated I felt the Christmas’s initially following my husbands death, to a Christmas after a relationship had finished, and our upcoming 2017 Christmas.
When H died I kept Christmas alive and happy for the kids. A few years back I had some family home video tapes transferred onto CD’s to preserve them. In writing this I’m thinking how I need to make sure I keep up the preservation by ensuring I keep up with technology and transfer the recordings to the appropriate technology. Preserving memories are important to us because for my children’s dads memory being kept alive. These images are all they have now and I feel a sense of responsibility to ensure I always have something to show my children when curious or just want to see who their dad was. Videos are different to photos. They are animated and have sound.
I watched those videos a couple of years ago when I had this process done. What I noticed is the kids seemed really happy. Every Christmas I would record the kids waking up and opening Santa’s presents. As hard as it was for me I forced myself to keep this tradition going. And believe me when I say I forced myself. I noted in another blog how I didn’t take many photos from 1999-2003 or so. I have provided a link to this blog When death comes knocking at your door on some idle Tuesday afternoon.
I watched the videos on Christmas and there was my daughter in the 2001 Christmas video with her messy blond Shirley Temple style hair, a beaming smile and puffed out chest saying, ‘look what Archy got’, and holding up a Thomas the Tank toy with pride. She then followed with, ‘Gee we must’ve been good kids’. As we all know Santa’s doesn’t come to naughty kids! So for her the gifts Santa had delivered under the tree was reassuring and gave her confirmation of their goodness.
It struck me when watching this video years later, that this was one of the first Christmas’s after H’s death, after her dads death. There was this innocent healthy gorgeous girl beaming with joy. I thought to myself watching that video how well I, and all the other people who had helped us, had done, to try to keep her life as normal as possible, especially at Christmas. A time of great delight for young children. A time that Santa comes to visit every house of all the good girls and boys and he certainly hadn’t disappointed these children.
For me however, this Christmas was one of my saddest Christmas’s ever. Watching the video was bittersweet . Pleased that the kids were enjoying themselves and happy but because of my grief I didn’t really get to really soak up the enjoyment of my children. I was putting on a brave face for them. Looking at them thinking of their dad and how horrible he wasn’t there sharing this joy of Christmas morning together. Watching the excitement of children at Christmas, our children, I was missing my husband and father of our children. At the time for me I was there in a physical sense but that was all. It’s as if I was outside looking in, it was as if I wasn’t really there. I couldn’t even feel their joy at the time. My mind at the time was so pre occupied with the physical flood of painful emotions of grief as I mentioned in When death comes knocking at your door on some idle Tuesday afternoon.
There was no room in my head for peace, for the good things happening in life. Grief was so overpowering, so consuming.
4 or so years after that Christmas I found myself in a relationship with someone I’m lucky to not be with now. He made me miserable but at the time I couldn’t see that. That’s was a like spring that never turned into summer. The sun shone weakly but never brightly and never filled me with warmth that you get on a beautiful summers day. That person was incapable of being the partner that was healthy nurturing for me and my children. As a result it ended. It never turned into the summer I had hoped for. Despite that when it ended just before Christmas 2006, I was once again devastated. It hit me hard. Family and friends could see the misery he was causing so weren’t sad to see him go. That Christmas I remember feeling very alone in my sadness. It was different to our first Christmas without H. Everyone was sad, everyone grieving, with me over H which had a wierd comfort to it, but this new person who’d left my life hadn’t effected others like it had me. Everyone else was happy again for Christmas having moved forward from their grief of H. They were’t sad now and facing loss again like me, they were ok. It was an isolating sadness. A sadness no one understood. I worried I was going to go through that deep sadness all over again like I did H. What was interesting I thought was although the initial end of the relationship had a similar intensity it didn’t last near as long. My life soon brightened up again.
Life continued to go forward in a better way. In 2007 I met Ted and he became my summer. Christmas’s are as they should be again. Full of joy, excitement and great times with friends and family. 17 years after that eclipse of the sun, Christmas once again has a wonderful joy to it. Spring came and went and along came summer. The sun is not covered by clouds anymore.
I’m having 32 people who are loved and special to me coming to our place for tea this year. I’m so looking forward to putting up the Christmas tree, the Christmas lights, the buzz and franticness of December. The Christmas pudding hangs in my laundry ready for a fabulous day. There will be a feast to be had.
You can’t change the past, Christmas’s lost in grief, but I can make this Christmas as clear as a bright day. I can be present physically as well as emotionally and soak up all the good it offers. Soak up the love of H’s wonderful family who will be sharing the day with us and surrounded by my amazing young adult children, Ted and his children, special friends who grace our table and feel oh so lucky that we are all together, all healthy and able to enjoy each other’s company. I’m very blessed that we get to share our Christmas’s with his family, that we have a wonderful relationship with them all these years later.
We have all embraced each other, they have accepted Ted and his children, my children and his children have accepted each other and the family continues to grow. Each year there are new family members. Children, boyfriends and girlfriends. There is so much to look forward to again.