Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Preparation

We put the Christmas tree up the day before Thanksgiving. We put up our stockings, including the one we bought for Analin. The idea is that we will all write her letters each Christmas and stuff her stocking with them. Once it's full, we can pull them out and be able to see how she's affected us each year.

I wasn't able to put up my snowflakes, though. I have 3 boxes of glittery snowflake decorations, and this year we bought a box of much bigger ones. I generally use them to make a design on our front picture window, throw a few on the other windows and hang remainder on the tree.

I just didn't feel like it this year. I didn't feel like going through the effort to plan a design, to arrange them on the windows at all - to be happy about putting them up.

On Analin's 2nd Monthday I decided it was time. It was a sad day anyway, and I had reached a point I wanted them up more than in their boxes. I free-handed a tree on the window, gave Analin her own snowflake and even hung up a pair between her and Chiaotzu, our 9 year old boxer dog who passed away in the late summer because of a bee sting.

I cried the whole time. Putting up the snowflakes was just so final. Christmas is really coming, really happening and I feel like we're missing a key member in the celebrations.

Kris says we still have Analin, just not in the way we wanted. I understand the thought, but have trouble agreeing with it. But I still have this driving need to include her - to give her a snowflake, to hang her stocking, to get her a personalized ornament along with the ones we buy for the boys every year. So yes, she is here with us, just not in the way we wanted. I hate the very thought, because let's be honest - this is not the way it was supposed to be.

The first year is the hardest, they say, because of all the firsts. I'm beginning to wonder if I might be able to hold my breath for the whole time, to let the pain build up until I can let it all go in one big relieving exhale. Of course, I'm pretty sure I don't have the Navy Seal training for that.

The holiday season is the worst, I think, for a lot of us who have lost loved ones. I hear so many stories now, and whether it's because no one talked about them before they knew I would understand, or now I understand and make the effort to pay attention. Or maybe I was always paying attention, but just didn't have the experience to be able to empathize.

Regardless, the stories are there, and with them some hope. Because I see there is still joy to be found in the holidays. I feel it myself while I'm planning what to do with the boys. I just wish grieving didn't have to be so hard because I'm beyond tired of it already.

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