Last year, our first year without Eric, my girls and I traveled to New York City to hide among millions of people for Christmas. It was the right choice. I did not lift a finger. I did not put up one decoration. I did not bake one cookie. I didn’t care about anything but disappearing into the bowels of a bustling metropolis where no one knew me and no one cared.
This year is just strange. We used to be the family where people visited, the home where people stayed, a warm place of comfort and memories. Now we are the people without a family, really. We are the people without traditions and a place to go that feels like home. We are the people who need to be invited over into some else’s Christmas.
But there was progress. A Charlie Brown Christmas tree chopped down in Boone. A few decorations adorned our tiny city condo. Eric’s stocking was still up on the fire place, along with the rest of us, like in Christmases past. I didn’t bake, but I managed to make fudge. I made plans to see a show I’ve never seen in all my years in Raleigh. I bought a few gifts this year. I went to the work holiday lunch wearing a dabbing Santa sweater. I wore my Steelers Santa hat more than once.
But it was all half ass, really. A Half Ass Christmas.
I look and see around me and on social media all the frolicking and joy and family gatherings. And I wonder how much of it is really just like mine…Half Ass. A hole and a missing seat and an empty plate and a family torn a part, trying to figure out what the holidays even mean anymore.
I always knew that Christmas was tough for many but never quite understood the depth of that challenge. People say, “Oh, you have your memories,” but they have no clue what that even means. Just another platitude to say to grieving families when they have no idea what to say. Yeah. No shit. We have our memories. That just means we know what we’ve lost, what we will never have again. We know absence and sadness and silence – those are what our memories ignite at Christmas.
So in rebuilding our lives, we rebuild our Christmas. And this year, we were able to do it Half Ass. I suppose that is a step forward. Or back. I don’t know.
Thanks for reading.