A Different Kind Of Christmas- Feeling Sad During The Holidays
I’ve always loved the holiday season. I don’t just mean Christmas; I mean the whole season that covers Thanksgiving to New Years. I love the lights, the smells, finding gifts for people, all of it. In 2010 though, that changed some. Then, again in 2012 and once again in 2015. It was in these years that I lost some very important people in my life. The holidays went from happiness and love, to happiness, love, and a lot of sadness.
Losing A Grandmother
I come from a very tight knit family. My grandparents were the pillars of this family. No matter what, they were the glue that held us all together. My maternal grandmother passed away in August 2010. It felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and I felt like the world was crumbling. She suffered from Congestive Heart Failure, and had a long battle with it. Knowing that death is coming doesn’t make it any easier. That first Christmas was painful. It was one where we all made a valiant effort to be there for each other though.
In May 2011, I gave birth to my first child. That Christmas, while it was exciting to be celebrating my baby’s first Christmas- it was also heart wrenching in wishing my Grandma could be there to see her and experience this moment with us.
The Loss Of Two In One Year
In 2012, I lost my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother. This again, made it feel like this foundation my life was built on was cracking. It was a lot of loss, and overwhelming to try and deal with. Both of them had been sick for a while, but actually losing them still hurt so much. Losing all my grandparents made Christmas feel especially hard because they were always a huge part of it. Growing up, and even as an adult we all went to my maternal grandparents Christmas morning. My Nanny (my paternal grandmother) would always come visit on Christmas Eve. It left a huge hole in Christmas for me.
In 2013, I was pregnant on Christmas and my baby was due to be born on New Years Eve. I mourned that my grandparents would never meet my baby boy to be. During a time of joy and happiness I found myself crying and sad. I thought this was turning around in 2014, maybe just maybe our family would stay intact and we wouldn’t worry about a phone call that someone was in the hospital or gone.
In August 2015, I unexpectedly lost an uncle. He was a good man, he passed away from a heart attack. It was early in the morning, I noticed a missed call on my cellphone when I woke up at 6 am and called my mom. She told me they were on their way to a hospital about an hour and a half away where my uncle lived because he had been taken there. I rushed and got dressed, I went to take my toddler out of his crib and the phone rang again…I was too late. He was gone. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.
Life had pulled a rug out from underneath me after convincing me it was ok to stand there. My uncle loved my kids, he had a special connection with my baby boy. On top of my loss, I was sad for my kids who would not grow up spending time with this man. This may have been the worst pain of them all. He wasn’t all that old, he kept up with his health, it just didn’t seem fair. My uncle always made a buttermilk pie (I know, you’re thinking…buttermilk?!), yes buttermilk. It was light and sweet and so, so good. He always brought it especially to Thanksgiving dinner. Some have tried to attempt it since and while they were good it isn’t the same. It’s even something that’s hard to eat because it makes me miss him so much. Missing leads to sadness and the regret I feel that my kids won’t have him as part of their lives.
Time and Wounds
New Years makes me mark another year they’ve all been gone. While it’s been said that time heals all wounds, that’s not really the case. Time is irrelevant when it comes to love and memories. A memory that was so long ago can feel like you can reach out and touch it regardless of the years between.
Driving home the other day, I heard a song my Mark Shultz, “A Different Kind Of Christmas.”
“Putting candles in the windows
Lights upon the tree
But there’s no laughter in this house
Not like there used to be
There’s just a million little memories
That remind me you’re not here
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year”
It wasn’t my exact situation, but it captured the sadness of not having people you love with you. You want to be happy, but the million little memories you have of them aren’t warming you they’re just reminding you who’s not there. Then, it gives this reminder-
And I realize what’s still alive is the legacy you made Click To Tweet
“There’s voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we’ll try to make this Christmas like the ones we’ve had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what’s still alive is the legacy you made
It’s time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It’s time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you’re up in heaven, doesn’t mean you’re not near”
That line… oh how I needed to realize it myself. It’s ok that I feel a little sad that some of my loved ones are gone during the holidays. It’s ok that I cry. What I have to come back to and remember is that it’s their legacy that is still here. It’s my job to make sure that each of their legacy live on. The legacy of family, kindness, love, generosity, humor, and perseverance. In these things, I find that they are close to me. While it isn’t always easy, I will push through continue to pass the legacy left for me to my children. I’m beginning to understand that it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to cry- but then you have to focus on the good and the strength that their legacy left behind to keep moving forward. So this year, we’ve added some more decorations and even an outdoor tree. When I look at them, I won’t just miss my grandparents but I’ll smile at how much they loved Christmastime and lights. I’ll tell my kids the stories of Christmas past and incorporate those things in the present to pass along memories.
If you get down, and feel sad around the holidays, please know that you aren’t alone. There’s nothing wrong with you, and it’s completely normal. There are some great resources to help you find ways to get through it.