They’re singing deck the halls
But it’s not like Christmas at all
I remember when you were here
And all the fun we had last year
If there was a way
I’d hold back these tears
But it’s Christmas day
Baby please come home Ohh…
Baby please come home
Jon is my ghost of Christmas past: the happiness, festivity, connection that filled the Christmas season. He always had a way of making things exciting.
Our last winter my family all spent a long weekend in a Tennessee cabin. It was the first snow, not only for my one year old daughter but for my adult brothers and my father as well. It was a wonderfully magical trip for my very Florida family.
The snow was too powdery to build a snowman but Jon insisted that a snowman was critical to complete the weekend. So he persuaded me to help him in his endeavor even though our Floridian winter gear was not quite up to the task.
Our lack of snowman accessories did not phase him. Two sausage patties left over from breakfast for eyes, a Dorito chip for the nose (and some chip crumbs where the stomach would have been), my scarf and some lemonade for him to enjoy and we had our snowman.
Jon approached all of life this way, everything was an opportunity for fun.
I am the ghost of Christmas present. My body is here but my Christmas spirit is gone. The part of me that loved Christmas, spent hours coming up with perfect gift ideas, ensured each present was wrapped beautifully, and delighted in looking at Christmas lights… is a ghost. She’s lost somewhere in the abyss and I can’t seem to find her.
This Christmas my daughter is just a few months shy of 3. The first year in the tiny window of a child’s life when Christmas is truly magical. And I’ve barely done anything to celebrate with her. We haven’t watched Christmas movies together. I haven’t made her hot chocolate or taken her on a drive to see lights. I knew she was getting a decent amount of presents from my family so I only bought her one gift. It wasn’t until the night of Christmas Eve that I realized that I didn’t have anything at all for her stocking.
I totally forgot to get fun Christmas pjs for my kids and I searched 3 different stores the week before to try and find Christmas clothes for them to wear to church and found nothing.
I was so frustrated that I couldn’t do the *one* Christmas-y thing I wanted to accomplish that I went on a long rant to on a JC Penny employee when they were the 3rd store that literally doesn’t sell *any* dress clothes for boys until size 8. “So you’re saying no one dresses their boys in anything but t shirts and pajamas until they hit 7 years old?!!!” I didn’t realize how harsh I was coming off until I saw my dad’s face silently telling me to drop it. It wasn’t her fault I felt like I had failed Christmas for my kids.
All I see as I scroll through social media is portraits of happy, whole families doing fun Christmas things together. All the things I would love to do with my children if I wasn’t focused on simply surviving my day to day. The best I could do this year was buy some cookie dough so Jocelyn could make Christmas cookies. But I couldn’t even do it with her because that day, of all days, I had really bad food poisoning, so my sister was the one to show her how to decorate cookies.
I wanted to do more. I wanted to take Jocelyn to tour Christmas lights or see a Living Nativity. I wanted to celebrate this season with her, but the weight of grief has been hard to carry, especially with how difficult my existence has been over the last two months.
This is my second Christmas without Jon, but last year I was too preoccupied with the arrival of our son to worry about the holidays. He was born on the 22nd and we didn’t get home from the hospital until Christmas Eve. I didn’t have to think about the getting in to Christmas because I needed to focus on the arrival of my newborn son.
I was hoping to do more this year, I was hoping to be stronger than I am right now. But at this point my only goal is to survive the holidays without breaking down. I nearly cracked during the Christmas Eve service when the same police man who showed up at my door to tell me about Jon’s passing was not only at church, but read the advent in front of the congregation in full uniform.
The holidays make the absence of a loved one painfully obvious. Family photos on social media, lyrics to Christmas songs, advertisements for gifts that would have been given. Everywhere I look, around every corner is a reminder of what I’m missing. What my kids are missing. It’s hard to pull up any joviality through the heaviness.
Now. I know the response to this blog will likely be along the lines of “but the true meaning of Christmas…” Yes. I know. I am aware. I just hate that I am not the mom I want to be and my kids have lost so much I just want them to have the fun and excitement that they would have had if they hadn’t lost their father. Jon and I imagined how fun Christmases would be as a family once Jocelyn was old enough to participate. I’m simply feeling this secondary loss as well as the loss of my husband and my children’s father.
My life has become navigating a nightmare as best as I am able. Even after life becomes a bit easier, holidays are hit in the crossfire of loss. There will always be the lingering ghosts of Christmas past and Christmas present.
But in the end, I know the feelings I am experiencing are not effecting my children. They had a wonderful day today. Jocelyn loved the guitar I bought her. It’s only right that she has one since she’s clearly inherited her father’s love for music. My son, he just loved the boxes and ripping the paper and I did manage to find him a nice outfit to wear to church. I have to remind myself that there is still beauty around me, even as I’m haunted by the ghosts of Christmas.
Here’s to believing for better things in the upcoming year.
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.