After Thanksgiving it’s easy to get caught up in the rush and frenzy of Christmas. Keeping busy may be helpful, or maybe you just don’t feel the holiday spirit after the loss of a loved one. It’s Ok to not do anything somedays. Other times, you may find yourself lost in a copy of the book that resembles, “If you give a mouse a cookie” by Laura Numeroff and spend the day chasing squirrels. That is OK too. Widows get a pass on living up to the expectations we women have burdened ourselves with. It’s been six years for me now, but I enjoyed reading my post about the second year when I wanted to get back into the swing of the holiday season, but needed a little help.
Decorating for Christmas was definitely on my to do list, I just kept putting it on the bottom. The idea of digging out all my favorite memories that I had collected over the years for the Christmas tree, kept me frozen with apprehension.
My first year as a widow I avoided the Holidays and traveled. I ran away and didn’t participate in many of my favorite traditions. The cruise during Christmas week to the Caribbean with my 2 sons was perfect for the first year. I never put out any decorations and I was fine with that. A Different Christmas is OK, especially after the loss of a loved one.
The decision was made to decorate on this year 2 and I was planning to do it. I was going to do it… after I made myself some breakfast.
While I was making home fries, an omelet and coffee, I searched for a piece of paper so I could make a to do list. After brunch, my puppy started barking. I was sure he needed a walk so off we went.
When I got back from the walk I noticed that my yard needed a good clean up.
I took out the power tools – a noisy leaf blower. I started blowing leaves all over the back yard. Once the deck was cleared and the rest pushed to the sides of the yard I thought I would start decorating inside.
But then I noticed the bird feeder was empty. I have a thing about blue jays and cardinals. I feel like my husband and my dad send them to me to comfort me. It was time to get some bird food. That was really important. So I found the car keys and put on a hat. Off to do some shopping.
At the garden store, I picked up 20 pounds of bird seed, 75 feet of white pine roping and a 15 inch fake Christmas tree. I wasn’t ready to pull out all the boxes of ornaments but felt that the small tree with some pretty new decorations would spruce up the house.
Once the bird feeder was filled and hanging, I got back to blowing the back yard. That’s when my friend came over with a hose. I needed it for the boat. She suggested we make a bonfire in the back yard. So we did. We threw in some logs and sticks. It was more fun than bagging leaves. We didn’t burn the leaves because that is illegal in New York.
After she left, my brother in law came over. He changed some shower heads in the house that were broken. We discussed the menu for Christmas dinner. He and my husband always made the roast and did a great job. We are both sorely mourning the loss of Mike and he keeps in contact with my boys and me. This year he plans to have my sons help him make dinner. Good luck with that.
We made plans to get together with family before Christmas as well. That was a good distraction.
Finally, I brought the white pine roping into the house, cleared off the mantle and put the greens on top. I carried up a few boxes of ornaments and decorations. The TV played country music and I poured myself a glass of wine. The first decoration to go up was a beautiful sign a friend had given me that is part of our home now. It says:
Because someone we love is in Heaven, a little bit of Heaven is in our home.
Just as the nativity set was beginning to sort itself out, the doorbell range. Help arrived in the form of friendly neighborhood elves. My friends stopped by with wine and young daughters who love to decorate! I ordered a pizza and took out the paper plates with snowmen on them we used last week during the Christmas party at school. Everyone found a spot to enhance with glass bulbs, lights and bows. Some things look like they always did, but a new perspective on the same old stuff was really fun for me to see come together.
Laughter and smiles ensued as everyone rummaged through my collections of stored Christmas memories. I did not get a big tree, so I couldn’t put all those wedding, baby, travel and homemade ornaments up. The nutcrackers came to life as they stood stoicly above the room.
The stockings stayed in the box. I’d rather not have any than to have one missing.
Waking up this morning, the house was festive and those girls even cleaned up! Lights and garland illuminate my home. Waves of sadness and stress still hit me as I realize the love of my life is no longer here. I do feel his presence at times and know he looks over us but I still miss him. Having friends and family over is the best part of the holiday season and I am so blessed that I have both.
To read more on how I have dealt with the holidays click here: A widow’s guide to stumbling through the holidays
The only thing is that the squirrels have discovered the bird feeder. I hope they leave some for the birds.