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Life Chez Dee Episode #41: The most wonderful time of the year

The most wonderful time of the year! … or is it?

I can’t imagine it’s that wonderful for the person who is homeless, or the person without food, or money to pay for rent, or heating, or those who are unable to afford buying presents for their family. It won’t be a wonderful time for those ill in hospital, or those ill at home. Those who work will probably have had more wonderful times, as too will those who are alone or who have lost loved ones.

December will never be the same for me … ever. Everywhere I go, everything I do, will be tainted by memories of the trauma of Edward's death. Yes there are always wonderful memories of Christmases spent with all the boys, the silly antics which Edward got up to … which made me laugh, and cry then … and laugh and cry now.

But he should be here … and he’s not … and things are not the same.

I have never decorated a Christmas Tree since Edward died. I can’t do it. The last thing we did together as a family was put up our Christmas Tree ... that morning Edward pranced around with tinsel round his neck; that was the morning that Edward took ill; that was the day that Edward went into hospital, and never came home. The year after Edward died I still couldn’t physically put up the Christmas Tree – we had a Christmas Tree, which I let the boys loose with … and I wasn’t remotely bothered that all the decorations were shoved on.

This year we haven’t had a tree in the house anyway. I just can’t face having the Christmas Tree destroyed completely by the cats being up it, on it, wrecking it and pulling it over. We do have a Christmas Tree outside our French doors which we can see from the lounge though … which Justin and Oliver have decorated with lights and a few cheap baubles which they bought from good old Home Bargains … a box of 41 … not sure why 41; it does look like a rather odd number to choose.

I sat this weekend looking around the room – we had no decorations up in the house. The truth is that I don’t feel like I can be bothered with them. I have no desire to decorate the house. Fortunately for us all, Justin has made an effort with it and put up some twinkle lights, and a few Merry Christmas signs, there are some homemade decorations by Oliver, and he’s tried to hang tinsel from the lights … I have taken enough of an interest to insist that that is removed though!

I feel flat; deflated; unenthused. I don’t want to plan for Christmas. Everything is last minute. I don’t want to send cards, I’m not even very interested in buying presents. I haven’t planned meals or even the general running of the day.

But the day will be as it always is ... my family will come round, and J’s mum … that’s what is tradition. We haven’t talked about it; or planned it … and yet, this is how it will be on Christmas Day.

So everything will be the same; but it won't be the same for me. And I will be expected to smile, and enjoy, and do all the Christmassy things that people do. I’ll try, of course I will, but at times it will be an effort. It just isn’t the same.

Don't be under any illusion that it's all doom and gloom though. There will be fun, and laughter, and silliness, and joking, and drinking, and lots of family ribbing. Does this mask the pain though? No. Does the pain still exist? Yes, absolutely. But one doesn't cancel out the other. Both the happiness, and the deep sadness co-exist; side by side; running parallel; always there; neither one without the other.

Oliver will be excited, and I’ll need to be excited for him, still keeping the Christmas magic for him. William will go along with all the pretence for Oliver’s sake too. We will buy the goodies in (slightly curbed this year); we will cook the dinner, which will not be turkey as I don't like it that much, so for the second year running it will be pork for us; we will exchange presents, which too we have had to cut down this year; and yet making every effort to keep up the tradition as it has always been.

But I don’t know if I want this or not. I wonder sometimes about what it would be like to get away; have a break; no tradition; no tinsel; no overindulging in either food or materialism. Time away, to get headspace, to think, to remember.

Oliver has been away this weekend on cub camp, and we have taken the liberty of going to shop and finish off our Christmas purchases. Both of us trying to curb our spending this year as things are tight … both of us doing without presents yet again, as we’d rather be spending on the children than ourselves.

We have been to Church too this evening for a Carol Service. It was lovely that both the boys were playing in the Church ensemble, William on trumpet, and Oliver on Saxophone. Always a pleasure to hear William play, and today it was special as Oliver was there too … even though he’d only been home half an hour from cub camp! That’s dedication for you.

I listened to the sermon. I don’t know if I’m more sensitive these days … I feel as though I take things to heart more. I listen to every word; I analyse every word; I look for how the words are personal to me … and I’m shaking my head; time and again I shake my head. I listen to what a special time of year it is. How God thinks we’re all special; that he’s there for each and every one of us; he is the light in the darkness. No he isn’t! I feel totally destroyed. I feel that he has totally destroyed our family. I feel he has totally destroyed me. I’m angry that I’m listening to how special God thinks I am, how he wants us to celebrate this special time of year. How has he made this time of year special for me? How? This time of year will never be special to me anymore... EVER.

I sit and think, and process, and analyse … and I cry … I cannot hold those tears back as I think about how much has been taken from our family; taken from me. I miss Edward so very much. I miss him being here, being silly, being naughty, causing trouble, causing so much noise and chaos. I miss his smile, his laughter, his jokes, his smell … I miss everything about him.

I’m so choked that I cannot sing. I just cannot even mouth the words.

I often cry in church. I think it’s me having time to have my own conversations with God … I think everything comes out … even if I’m not able to talk … I am able to think, and my conversations with God are non verbal when I’m sitting in church. All that sadness, all that pain, all comes out in tears when I stand before God. I want to know why he took Edward. Why? But my tears today were all this, but also when I hear how God wants us to enjoy this special time. I often find something that comforts me when I sit through a Church service … something I can latch on to... some sort of meaning … hope. That didn’t happen today … in fact it was quite the opposite. I have my own views and thoughts as to what Edward is up to, why he had to die, what job he was needed for, how he's on a mission up there doing so much, shaking them all up. Those thoughts give me comfort, but they do not make me think that God cares.

But what can I do? I have family, and children, and so again this Christmas I will make the best of it is all I can say … I will make an effort for family who will come and spend time with us (as it’s a special time of the year) … I don’t know how long all will stay with us … my mum in law will be wanting to get back to her dogs, my mum will not want to stay as she’s not well and will have just had another chemo treatment; I will be painting my smiley face on, putting on the charade that everything is ok, and special. All doing everything that is always done, keeping up the traditions as much as we can; all pretending it is all normal, and yet it will never feel ok. Edward's absence is so noticeable to me, that he has a presence ... loud and clear.

I will get up and see all my boys on Christmas Day. Oliver and William will open their presents, and I will go and spend time with Edward at his grave on Christmas morning too. This in itself taints the day … what mother would ever want to start Christmas morning at the grave of their child? And then I go back to the house to get the smile on my face, ready for all my guests to arrive.

So my smile will be there, lots of fizz, lots of gin will be poured and will see me through; I will enjoy watching the children opening their presents; and my kittens will bring an element of chaos to the day … which of course is missing as Edward isn’t here. I will do my best to make this most wonderful time of the year wonderful … but I say this to you all … it’s not always that wonderful for everyone.

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