Several weeks ago I decided that the best way to deal with Christmas was to avoid it. I figured that if I treated it as a normal day it would feel like a normal day. So I didn’t decorate the house or send Christmas cards. I didn’t play Christmas music or attend Christmas-themed events. And the plan worked – for a while.
Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
I’d made plans to go skiing with my uncle and his friends, none of whom I’d ever met. I thought that it would take my mind off of everything and would be a lot of fun. So I drove to my uncle’s house a couple of days before Christmas, ski gear in tow. The night I got there about a dozen people came by and we had a big potluck dinner. It was a lot of fun, and I was excited to have a few more days like that over the holidays.
But when I woke the morning of Christmas Eve I felt sad. It just hit me out of the blue and I realised that even though I wasn’t participating in the holidays, they were still happening all around me. It was inevitable, I suppose, that my emotions would catch up with me – with interest! I wanted to be at home, I wanted to be in my own bed, and I wanted to cry. But I didn’t want to be home alone, so I called my parents who were more than happy to come to my house for Christmas – even though it meant a last-minute plan change and a four-hour drive.
Christmas didn’t really feel like Christmas. There was no tree, there were no presents, and there was no Paul. But it was a good day, and I am glad I decided to come home. I spent the day visiting with my parents and we all enjoyed a nice Christmas dinner that night. Throughout the day, I noticed myself missing Paul and wishing he was there, but I suppose it was easier to do that in my own home, surrounded by people I know – as opposed to being in a strange place where I didn’t know anyone other than my uncle and surely would have felt like an outsider around all the happy couples.
I know what Christmas should have and would have been with Paul and the children. There were so many traditions that we’d started when we met and so many more that we’d hoped to pass on to our children. But those Christmases will never happen, and those traditions we’d started may fade away because as I create my new future, there will surely be new traditions for the holidays. I don’t know what my future Christmases will be like, or if I will ever share them with someone the way I shared them with Paul again, but I know that there will be many Christmases to come. And not all of them will be as difficult as this one.