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, and 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 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 are 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 getting into 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 policeman who showed up at my door to tell me about Jon’s passing was not only at church but he 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, and 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 affecting 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.
That is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Thanks for expressing this sadness so well.
What I have always believed was that my husband was my guardian angel. Although it had hurt like no other hurt I could imagine, that was my one comfort. During the darkest moments, I knew he was there with me.
I do hope that 2018 brings you peace. Love those babies with all of your heart, Jon would have wanted to see that and feel that love between you all.
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is my second Christmas without my husband. I moved across country, changed jobs. It helps a little to change the setting, but keep the memories.
Thanks for your blog. People seem to think you will “get over” the loss., or “move on”. They don’t get it. It hurts to see couples shopping together or at events. I miss saying “We” .
Erica, what similar lives we lead, although I’m not experienced as a pregnant widow :). I find myself completely relating to your blog post. This 2017, myself and our nearly 13 y/o twin boys, are ‘celebrating’ our 2nd Christmas without my love, and their mother. I too have found this year, to be incredibly difficult, to find my Christmas spirit. I’ve topped off our Christmas experience this year, by spending our holiday with inlaw family, 500 miles away from our home. To say the least, our Christmas has been extremely ‘different’ than any previous Christmas experience, I too forgot any type of stocking stuffer goodies. I keep trying to find peace with our situation, only to find myself shedding more tears.
Perhaps our paths will cross, and allow us to elevate each other’s spirits, to a higher level of understanding our missions in life.
Blessings to you and yours. Peace to you my friend, with your journey.
My Heart breaks for you Erica. I know that things said to me brought tears to my eyes about my darling Richard. I have found year 2 to be harder to get through than the first year. xxx
Thanks as always, Eric, for your blog post. I am finding year 2 more difficult without my husband and soulmate as well. I think last year I was still in shock, and busy wrapping up affairs. This year was also compounded by the loss of my Mom in October. I just feel so alone. And it’s true – we are bombarded by society’s expectation that the holidays are a time for family. Well, some of us don’t have any anymore. Missing Mike so terribly badly this year. Thank God for my friends for helping me not lose it completely. And there is some comfort knowing that I am not completely alone in my pain. Best wishes to you.
I want to thank you as well. It was year two without my husband – I felt like a zombie the entire season and am just glad Christmas is over , now I have my birthday and New Years day then – hopefully – I can fall back into my new normal routine. My daughter does not speak to me much since Jim took his life so I do not get to see my granddaughters. How can a life change so completely?? I am so sorry for your loss – I feel your pain and grief in my soul.
People only post happy pictures. It’s usuall posted to provoke a response of envy. I see it worked. I’m sure you can carry of the vision you and your husband had to give your child/children a magical Christmas. Time heal certain things. You will feel up to things again. You will be stronger and your children will recognize they love and struggles you go through for them.
I’m sorry about the typos. I should’ve proof read.
Your story brings me to tears. I am so happy that with all this grief, you (at least) have so many beautiful pictures of the two of you, to cherish. I cannot imagine the pain and heartache you must feel every day. I will hug my Fiance a little tighter tonight, knowing how much I need to appreciate him. Another day is never promised. I hope in time you can find some peace.
Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling. This is the first Christmas without my husband. Our son is 9, and my daughter is 16. I couldn’t find my Christmas spirit at all. It was like every place I looked, I saw dads with their kids. I normally do cards, – nope. The thought of doing them without my husband’s name on there was just too hard. Sounds stupid I know, but it’s how I feel. It’s like I was doing well, then Thanksgiving and Christmas came….draining me. My kids are happy and I’ve been able to hide my sadness from them…so that’s what matters.
This was my first Christmas without my husband (married 17 years). No children, so I realize I am not faced with raising kids without him. I was single until we met and married (me: 40yrs old and him: 24…yes, it was a May/December thing). I appreciate you writing out your thoughts and sharing them with us. I miss him dearly, but he is with Jesus now and that gives me peace. I think about the apostle Paul and how he was driven as a Christian to always keep his life about God’s work on earth for him to do: bring Christ to the Gentiles. It’s hard enough for me to keep that focus for myself, let alone keep that mindset when you have little people to be responsible for. I pray blessing for you Erica. Please keep writing.
My husband died when my children were 8 and 2. This was our 14th Christmas without him and all those things you say are still there…family pictures, gifts for dad/husband, etc. We don’t dwell that he’s not with us, but we talk of him all the time and yes, sometimes we cry. It will always be ok to do that, and especially to do with them. I believe the kids need to know it’s ok to remember him, to talk about him, to miss him, to cry. My son doesn’t remember his dad at all, as I’m sure your children won’t. But he knows the stories because we tell them often.
Prayers for you and your family in the new year.
This is my 4th Christmas without my husband and the holiday season just seems to beat me down. I’ve had to leave so many stores because the Christmas songs just make me cry. It is funny my brothers and sisters seem to think I should be fine by now. I guess if you don’t experience the loss of a spouse you have no idea of the heartache. I always tell my kids that your Dad would want us to be happy but this time of year zaps our positive spirits. I can’t wait until Jan. 2nd but then Jan 13th would have been my husbands 54 yr b-day. It seems like every month has something to mourn. To you Erica and everyone who has written and in pain……..stay strong!
Thank you for writing, and the gift of your honesty, candor, and perspective. I love your blog, and am always so thrilled when I see you have a new post. I am sorry for your grief, and I think I can relate to year 2 being harder than year 1. And especially since you had the ups and downs of dating your friend. Your children are happy, and they are healthy, and they love you to the moon and back, and I am so sorry that you have to bear the burden of grief for all of you. Hang in there, dear one, and I pray that 2018 brings you blessings, joy, and love. I know you can never replace your beloved Jon, but God has big plans for you.