The holidays would be easier to bear if it were limited to one or two days - like Thanksgiving. The day would come and go, along with the heightened grief and sadness felt from Josh's passing.
But no, the "Christmas season" or "holiday season" is four weeks or longer. In the past, or "pre-Josh", I enjoyed the holidays. I looked forward to the family traditions and most of all, the time together.
These days, I take inventory in my head. Examining each tradition or action associated with this "festive" time to determine if I can or want to do it. Am I motivated? Do I have the energy? Will it be too sad or will it help?
In speaking about this with our girls at Thanksgiving, I said it wasn't clear to me what I would be able to do. They understood but hoped that we could, at the very least, still have a tree. I didn't make any promises, but over time, after seeing our neighbor's trees in the windows, I came to want one too. But I couldn't bear pulling out the same decorations as years past.
You see, this was one of our traditions. I always got an ornament for each child complete with their initials and the year. When it came time to decorate, the Christmas music played, a plate of cookies were out and the kids put their ornaments on the tree. It would be too sad to look at Josh's ornaments - each one a reminder of our loss.
So this year, we have an all white tree. White lights, ribbon, flowers, ornaments and snowflakes. In memory of Josh. It is absolutely beautiful - exactly what I pictured. Tim took special care in picking out the tree - it is perfect. I don't think the picture does it justice, but I have posted it below.
Another tradition at this time is to put candles in each of the upstairs windows. I like the simplicity of this and it reminds me of being in New England during Christmas. This year, I decided to put one candle up - in Josh's room. Again, in memory of him.
Then something new to consider. What to do about decorating his grave site? I wanted to put a wreath by his stone, but what kind? How big? Where do I get the wreath holder? Should I make it? Or buy it? Real or artificial? These questions occupied my mind for a few days. Having never thought of such things before, and wanting it to be perfect for our beloved Josh, made this seemingly simple task, a bit overwhelming.
In the end, I went to a craft store to look around. I found the wreath holder - a simple stand that can be pushed into the ground. And the perfect wreath - beautifully decorated with bright green ornaments (for Langley) and one bright blue ornament (for South Lakes). I could not have made a better one. So I took it out the day after the first snow fall of the season, set it up and had a good cry. No one was around. A little breeze made Josh's chimes ring softly. The snow, unmarked by footprints, was beautiful.
The holidays are hard and without the continued love, support and encouragement from family and friends, I don't think we could bear it. Not a day goes by, where we don't get something - either a call, an email, card or letter which lets us know that our Josh is loved and missed. This lifts our hearts, like nothing else can.
Thank you and God Bless