brother, death, Holidays, kids, loss

That silver bell

I’ve been struggling to get into “the Christmas spirit” this year. This happens to me often, but hasn’t been as bad the last few years with small-ish children. I try to recreate for them the magic that was Christmas for me growing up, and in doing so, that magic just gets all over me like red and green glitter. The first year after Riley died was a difficult Christmas. Part of my holiday experience was missing. All of my Christmas memories involved my brother, and I still couldn’t wrap my head around my new reality. This year feels eerily similar. I know that a large part of it has to do with my grief for Laci. It’s hard to have Christmas without her, when she’s been such an instrumental part of it for the past 17 years. Thinking about her, going through routines that she should be part of, planning, and celebrating Christmas just can’t be the same, and it feels broken. I also think about mark and my niece and nephew, and my heart breaks for their loss this holiday season, and that adds to the hurt. To top it off, it’s (still) 2020 and nothing is normal. We aren’t doing any of the things we usually do. No large family gatherings, big gift exchanges or dinners. No reason to get dressed up or do my hair or put on lipstick. Where are you, Christmas?

Tonight is Christmas Eve, and I did the things I always want to do with my kids but usually can’t. We had hot cocoa, made cookies, watched a Christmas movie, and then sat by the tree and read The Polar Express and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. It’s a ritual I grew up with, and we are usually too tired and rushed to do it. We put out cookies for Santa, and magical oats for his reindeer. On paper, tonight was perfect. But it isn’t. I don’t feel the way I want to. this holiday has rushed at me fast this year, with much to do and a lot of warm and even hot days to help me forget it’s supposed to be winter.

As I read the conclusion of the Polar Express, I almost cried. I wouldn’t hear that bell; I’ve lost the magic. For me, it’s all to-do lists. There is no space in my life for magic or wonder or the beauty I used to find in every little detail. In its place is an exhausting few weeks trying to cram in productive activities with festive ones, pretending to feel something I just don’t feel while I do them. I want it to be magical for my kids, but can I achieve that if it doesn’t feel at all magical for me? Can I ring the silver bell if I don’t hear the sound it makes?

Well, this has made for a depressing post. I’m sure that didn’t help you! In these last hours of Christmas Eve, I hope the magic finds you, and that you can make the best—even of this year.