I’ve been celebrating Christmas without my mom since 2011.
I wish I could say it gets easier.
This year I’m tempted to go back to Mom’s church for the Christmas Eve service we attended every single year without fail. But I know I’ll never make it through without gobs of snotty tissues and red, swollen eyes, so why bother?
Let me start by saying that if there’s one thing I’ve learned about grief, it’s that it’s different for everyone. Shucks, it’s not only different from person to person, but it can be different for the same person from day to day or even hour to hour! It’s completely unpredictable.
So maybe you can relate to my experience, or maybe you’ve responded completely differently – and that’s totally fine. My reaction has bent and morphed from year to year.
But that first year, I surprised myself. After 30 years doing the same thing to celebrate the holidays, after my mom died, I didn’t want any of it. Not the music, not the lights, not the cookies. Nothing.
I completely recoiled at the thought of “celebrating” these traditions without my mom. I couldn’t bear it. It hurt too much.
My kids complained. They wanted to decorate a tree. They wanted to bake cookies. They wanted to sing Silent Night. Of course they missed their Grandma, but they didn’t realize the strong emotional tie that she had to each of those activities for me. They couldn’t understand why something like my grief would or could or should “ruin” their Christmas.
So we compromised. With some traditions that year, I simply said, “I can’t.” With others, I agreed to go through the motions, but they didn’t transpire without silent sobs and gobs of snotty, tear-stained tissues.
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