So, it’s the morning after Christmas Day, and I am rehearsing the week’s events as I sit propped up in my bed. As my family moved into the Christmas season, our Christmas season usually begins at the beginning of November when we begin setting up our Christmas trees and adding all the ornaments, we knew it would be a one-of-a-kind since Henry, my love, had passed in June.
Let’s talk about the Christmas decorating for a moment. So, Kimberly, my daughter, put her first tree up in October because she wanted something different. Of course, it’s not just a simple Christmas tree. It is absolutely gorgeous with pink lights and lots of fluff. In fact, if it was my tree, I would probably leave it up all year as it serves as a great night light also. She then added the tree in the family room and, honestly, those trees have been shining day and night for weeks. She just loves the welcoming atmosphere as she returns home from a trip or errands.
I waited for Morgan, my oldest grand, to bring my seven-foot tree in from the garage and assist me in setting it up. I figure, at my age, I did not need to be on a six-foot ladder for a ten-foot tree so began downsizing several years ago; however, I then was given a seven-foot slim tree which I placed in my foyer. So, this year, I have enjoyed three trees in my house and haven’t determined when I will take them down as I also love the atmosphere they have provided. You see, I consciously did things differently this year because I know I am making new memories.
Henry always said that you don’t forget the memories, whether good or bad; you just begin heaping new memories on top of the previous ones. So, our family determined to do things differently this week. Son, Rob and Melissa and boys, had planned to spend Christmas week with their oldest son, Robey, in Florida so our first Christmas celebration happened Tuesday, the 22nd. Oh yes, and we also celebrated two birthdays, Rob’s and Melissa’s, in December. We had our traditional prime rib dinner with all the trimmings on Tuesday evening and Rob’s family opened their gifts from the family before they left on Wednesday. On Christmas Eve, we decided to do the faithful chicken gumbo for Christmas Eve and then Kimberly, her sons and friends, exchanged gifts with me. It was surreal, and throughout the day, we would remember and tear up for a bit, then move on. Honestly, the boys had a wonderful time just hanging with family.
We wanted to make sure that we made happy memories each day so invited friends to spend Christmas Day with us so we had honey-baked ham and all the trimmings. We even baked cookies and the young folk had a decorating contest and lots of games. It was a different kind of day but a wonderful time with all.
So, as I rehearse Christmas week, I realize I made it. I came through our first Christmas without Henry and made it. I did not need Ambien, Prozac nor wine to get me through. I realize I am much stronger than I ever deemed possible and can survive whatever comes my way as long as I have friends and family.
I know there are many people who are going through much harder life challenges than me and doing it alone. My heart breaks for them because we all need people. When God created man, Adam, He saw that Adam needed someone so He created Eve. So, do not ever judge yourself as weak when you reach out to others for assistance because we all need each other.
It’s amazing how you can lose such a vital part of your life and yet, you keep living. Now, the problem is when you allow memories, whether good or bad, to hold you hostage and you do not keep moving. It is a decision for each of us to determine how we will allow situations in our lives to create our future. As I read Facebook posts from the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Group, I am continually adding posts to bring assurance to those caring for their loved ones that they will make it through. If you had told me that my Henry would have been gone six months already, I would never have believed it because we thought he would live at least two more years, in his condition. So, for all those who feel like life has done you wrong and you cannot bear another day, please know that you have strength that you haven’t even used and resources that will be there when you need them.
Instead of mourning this entire season because my Henry is gone, my family and I chose to celebrate each other. I’m sure that we are being the family that Henry taught us to be – stand strong in the face of crisis and give love to those who are in need. He taught us the importance of faith – faith that we will see another day and faith that God is taking care of each situation. So, my plans today are to have lunch with a friend and keep building tomorrow until tomorrow is no more!