28 Days of Christmas, Day 2
If there is one thing I can say I love, it's definitely the spirit of the Christmas season. In my family, my mom does Thanksgiving dinner, I cook for Christmas and, my sister, well let's just talk about how much I enjoyed going to her house to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday last Sunday.
The tradition in my house goes something like this. I begin thinking about Christmas in July. In my mind, I'm probably one of the few people who are thankful to see Christmas decorations out in retail establishments in August/September. November 1st I start pulling totes, tubs and trees out of the garage so that I can have the bulk of my decorating completed by Thanksgiving. (This year I'm on track. I still have a few odds and ends decorations to finish up but for the most part I'm finished with the "big' decorating projects). The week of Christmas, December 21st, I go grocery shopping for my Christmas Dinner and start cooking on the 23rd.
I've done this for as long as I can remember. One year we packed everything up and took the kids to Louisville so we/I could wake up Christmas morning at my Granny's house. That was in the 90s and she brought us our first desktop computer with the dial-up internet. Where does the time go?
Fast forward Christmas night 2009. Christmas morning and Christmas dinner were both a success. I went to bed feeling like I had just been run over by a tractor trailer from a long day of gift giving and unwrapping, cooking and entertaining my family. I can remember getting in the bed and thinking to myself, next year we will do this differently. Next year we will have dinner on Christmas Eve and this will free up time and help me maintain my sanity on Christmas Day. I lay there in the bed next to James and autonomously made the decision to change our Christmas tradition. I didn't think twice or bat an eye, I just did it. Over the remainder of the Christmas season, I casually mentioned that next year we would celebrate on the 24th and everyone was cool with it.
Just 365 short days from the prior year's holiday,Christmas 2010 was totally different for my family. With T'neil's death just five months earlier, we were still in mourning and I had a combination of the holiday blues and the Christmas spirit. But thanks to a decision I made the year before to change the tradition and have dinner on Christmas Eve, I wasn't charged with the task of having to decide what we would do or not do that year. I honestly think that because T'neil had already been made aware of the fact that we were changing the way we celebrated Christmas, I felt less guilty for following through with our new tradition.
My family and I celebrated on Christmas Eve, I lit T'neil's memory candle and let it burn all day until the end of the night, I kept a table setting reserved for her and earlier that morning I daydreamed about the 17 year old girl I had chosen on the Angel Tree. The next day on Christmas morning, we got up, opened our presents, ate breakfast, and then I spent the rest of the day in my pjs on the couch watching Christmas movies and eating sweet potato pie.
Having dinner on Christmas Eve has allowed us in some years to visit with family and friends on Christmas Day and in other years it allowed us to do absolutely nothing if that's how we felt.
In the years since and especially since my little angel arrived, our traditions have changed again. At present, I've learned to do what feels right for me, it would be best for you to do what feels right for you.
***Tips posted here can be found in the article "64 Tips for Coping with Grief at the Holidays" at the website whatsyourgrief.com