Sunday, December 23, 2012

When Christmas Feels Like Too Much

UntitledI was dreading this holiday season.  If you're reading this, then by now I'm sure you know why -- because last year, just days before Thanksgiving, my daughter died.  To have to face the holiday cheer so soon after her death felt harsh and cruel.

So this year, I expected the first anniversary of her death and birth to somber the Christmas season.

But it hasn't.  And, and the same time, it has.

Here's what I mean:

In spite of my grief, I find myself looking forward to Christmas.  Maybe it's because death has touched me so intimately that I can cherish every opportunity to celebrate.  And maybe it's for our newly born son that I want to start creating meaningful, enjoyable holiday traditions.  Whatever the reason, I am looking forward to Christmas Eve service, to singing carols there, and to gifting presents on Christmas Day and wearing Christmas-y colors and spending time with my family.

And yet . . . her absence is everywhere.  The gap in our family becomes ever more obvious the closer we draw to Christmas.  Some of the worst of it happens out shopping.  I can't resist swinging by the baby section of stores to see what cuteness might be gotten for our little guy.  But no matter how sweet the boy clothes are, the girl clothes are always sweeter.  And worse, the stores are now carrying baby-sized holiday gowns for girls.  Every time I see them, every time I see the tutus and ruffles and sparkles, my heart breaks a little more.

Oh, those dresses.  I can picture her wearing them too clearly, and it hurts.  It hurts.

Christmas shouldn't hurt.

UntitledAnd yet, for so many of us, it does.  It hurts because our babies are dead.  Because children were gunned down by a broken young man in their elementary school.  Because our parents or kids or spouses or friends or grandparents or other much-loved ones are missing.  Because we are tired.  Because the season, for whatever reason, is just too much sometimes.

So, while I am still looking forward to my son's first Christmas, I can't wait for it to be past.  Because, if she had been born alive around her January due date, this would have been my sweet girl's first Christmas, too.  I should have been buying her one of those very dresses, should have been wrapping presents that her little nearly one year old self would have torn at with unabashed glee.

What is it about Christmas that highlights the should-have-beens?

Today that knowledge of what should be and isn't is just too much.  As much as I will enjoy this second Christmas without her because her absence has helped me appreciate me these opportunities for celebration so much more, I will enjoy the post-holiday calm even more.

And really, that's okay.  It's okay for Christmas to feel hard, and okay to enjoy it in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- grief and sadness.  And it's okay to forgo Christmas dinner and take a nap instead.

But still . . . I don't know if this will ever get any easier. It feels like I miss her more all the time.



  1. Oh the dresses, they haunted me for years. Christmas and Easter.

    1. Oh I totally forgot about the Easter dresses! That's something to look forward to, huh? :P

  2. what is hard for me is buying the little girl gifts for my nieces, who are 4, 3 and 18 months. i wish i could be buying it for my daughter too. she is always missing.

  3. Christmas will be bittersweet for us as well. Hugs to you.

  4. I totally relate to this.. But it's little boys outfits that haunt me. Tiny waistcoats and mini bowties. They break my heart.. Hugs to you.


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King