Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Surviving Christmas

For the families of children who have passed, either suddenly or before it would have been rational to expect them to pass from Earth, Christmas is not a happy day. Our culture gears up for the happiest of days, leaving those of us who have known loss near this time, in the dust. People buy special clothing, they decorate their homes, attend special gatherings and make special food. To many of us, this is a celebration with a child missing. In our house, the person missing is the person who loved Christmas most of all. Daniel had been our youngest and Christmas and other holidays had been a joy to him. The other kids enjoyed Christmas but were old enough to be cultivating friends and other outlets for celebrating the holidays, as they do when they go to college. Our eldest son was engaged just before Daniel's passing, and he was beginning the tough work of navigating the holidays with two families. Daniel liked to be part of all of it, the decoration, the tree, the cards, etc. Each year, we take gifts to our closest neighbors and friends, and Daniel liked to be part of that especially. We cope by understanding that Christmas will never be the holiday that it once was for our family. One of us is missing. We do continue in celebrating the way we always have, in case Daniel would like to look down and see how we are progressing, or to be a part of it, also. My father and my in-laws and others are also welcome, if they wish to come in spirit. We also have James here now, and although we will only have him for a few years before he too is grown and then gone, we must make memories and provide him with a valuable childhood and adolescence with fond Christmas memories and traditions. This year Stephanie decorated the tree, again with Daniel as our angel.(There is a star with his picture on the top of our tree) Adam placed the wreaths everywhere including the barns and the farm gates. Matt has been busy in college, but seemed happy to see the lights. James helped me to make the trip to the neighbors delivering the gifts we send each year. We have added a tradition of providing Christmas to those in a nursing home in the past couple of years. Daniel used to enjoy going to Sam's Club to buy food to deliver to the foodbank before Christmas. We continue many traditions from the Daniel years in the same vein, but without the same enthusiasm. We still do get a couple of gifts for Daniel. We place them in his room, where we have constructed a family room of sorts where we go when we want to see pictures of him, watch his DVDs or play on his computer. The gifts for Daniel will no doubt be played with by the rest of us, as we remember him. I also continue the tradition of writing Daniel a letter I place in his stocking on Christmas Eve, telling him what has happened this year, as if he doesn't really already know, and then I put it in his scrapbook afterward. Christmas will never be the same for those who have lost a child. However, they will find a way to move ahead, move on, and find joy, however small sometimes, in the celebration of Christmas, and the start of a new year.

This is Amy Grant, with her husband Vince Gill singing harmony.

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