The holidays are approaching. Quickly. It’s hard to believe that we are just over two weeks away from Halloween. I hesitate to even bring up the holidays because we live in a society in which each holiday is on display in stores across the country months before it even happens. We begin looking at Christmas stuff almost immediately after the back-to-school supplies are put away. Talk about wishing time away. Marketing makes it difficult to be in the moment.
The holidays. Lately, I have struggled a bit. Again. I know, I know. We are all shocked by this, right? (insert a heavy dose of sarcasm.) And when I really think about what it is that is causing this tiny step backwards, it is clear. The holidays. Heavy with tradition, a time for families to come together, gifts, words of thankfulness. It truly is a beautiful time of year and one that to which I have always looked forward. Until 2014.
I am entering my third holiday season in which I am operating solo. Passing out Halloween candy alone. Preparing Thanksgiving dinner alone. Christmas shopping alone. Christmas Eve church service alone. Watching Christmas movies alone. Waking up Christmas morning alone. Christmas day alone. My birthday alone. And the worst, New Year’s Eve alone. Don’t get me wrong. I am not sitting in a dark house crying (alone) during these times. I am surrounded by family and friends. But it’s not the same. P and I had our own traditions. And I LOVED them. They were ours and ours alone. Each one had been created in just the right way and each one was carried out in just the right way. Even when he was sitting 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan, we managed to execute our traditions in some sort of way.
But those traditions are no longer. And it hurts. And I miss them. But, like so many other things that have happened over the course of the last two and a half years, I can’t change this. It is what it is. I need to move forward. Gracefully. That’s not easy. If you have ever had to walk this path, you will certainly understand. Each step in a new direction feels foreign and sends a shock of pain through your body. Not because what you are walking towards is painful, but because what you are walking away from had become a part of you. Traditions are delicately woven into our very being. When just one slips away we feel the pain of its loss. So imagine, for just a moment, that all of the traditions you had created over a long period of time slipped away. With no notice. No discussion. No negotiations. Just slipped through your fingers. It hurts.
So maybe I didn’t have a say in the traditions “slipping” away, but I do have a say in how I manage the aftermath. And I can tell you that I did not handle it well the first two years. From putting up a tree with no ornaments at Christmas to lashing out with hurtful words on New Year’s Eve. It was ugly. Very ugly. But I am okay with that because it
was is part of the healing process.
This year is different. I don’t want to be sad/angry/hurt/miserable during the best time of the year. I want to enjoy each moment of it. I want to cherish the time with my family and friends rather than spend the time wishing for the past. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating – time is precious. You never know when this moment is the last moment so be present in it.
So, instead of hosting Thanksgiving like I have loved to in the past because it was P’s favorite holiday, my brother will host. And in turn, I get to have the big Christmas gathering at my house because that is what I always loved to do and P didn’t . It’s a chance to change things. It’s a chance to slowly let go of the hurt that comes with losing the traditions that we hold so close. I realized that I had to make a change or I would forever be stuck in this spot. Each year without change would pull me back to a place that isn’t healthy. A place that makes me lose sight of all of the progress made. A place that robs me of new memories, new traditions, and joy.
I will always treasure what was, but it’s time to consider what could be. There is so much more out there for me. So many traditions to make again. As Charles Dickens said “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”