Christmas is my favorite season of the year. I literally live for it.
I’ve always been enveloped by the Christmas spirit, months before and on the day; I’m genuinely happy.
It’s a beautiful reminder of the things we do have, the family and loved ones we are blessed with. When we take so much for granted, it’s healthy to appreciate the little things.
But, it’s also the most difficult time of the year. Where we are reminded of those we have lost and who should be here with us.
Christmas is a time of joy but also a time of grief.
I was lucky enough to have 18 beautiful Christmases before my favorite season of the year became just a little bit darker, a little bit less jolly.
My father passed away months after my 18th Christmas. I guess he knew that it was our last Christmas as it was because he even said: “Next Christmas will be different“. This still haunts me today.
What stung more than making it through a whole year without him and adapting to a life without my daddy. Was that Christmas was his thing, our thing, and the season now felt empty. How could I celebrate without him? It’s like having Christmas without Santa.
What took the place of the angel on my tree was my father. He was my angel now.
Four Christmases have passed and so will many more. The first was the hardest but none of them have been easy. I still make my Christmas wish to not forget him and what he embodied. I will hold onto him forever.
So while I’m wrapping presents, decorating the tree and preparing myself for the one time of year that I feel something so pure, I live with the hanging memory of an empty chair at the table and one less gift to wrap.
For many, Christmas becomes something new after their first loss of a loved one. It changes, it becomes both beautiful but morbid.
Christmas is and always has been about love and family. So when we lose our loved ones and our family, does that change the meaning of Christmas?
I miss the massive roasts that my mum and dad would make from the early hours of Christmas morn. I miss sitting around the telly together, so we can watch Dr. Who and eat far too many quality streets.
Most of all, I miss watching my father’s face as I swore that I found him the best gift yet. Itching to see a tiny bit of a smile. I miss making him feel special because he was.
You see, you lose more than just a person. You lose tradition. You lose their spirit.
What you don’t lose, is meaning.
Christmas is still exactly what it always was. You can still make new traditions and allow yourself to feel the spirit and joy.
You can still celebrate Christmas. You are allowed to enjoy it.
It’s not easy, it never will be. You don’t have to and should not move on from the death of someone you loved with all your heart. They are a part of you.
But you do not need to give up on the things you love. You don’t need to let a part of you die because it feels like you died with them. I’ve found the most helpful thing to me, was to stop believing that Christmas needed to be the same as before he passed, and to stop pretending that I have to be okay, I’m allowed to hurt even in the holidays.
You can start a new version of Christmas, where you write letters to the ones you have lost, or put an angel ornament on the tree for them every year (or a penguin in my case, as its a personal thing). You can still celebrate and have them as part of your day.
Allow yourself to cry this Christmas. Make traditions to remember the lost. Celebrate life and celebrate the memories that have passed.
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