Oh the holidays. The holidays can be tricky for everyone- there are always expectations that we need to meet- people to see, family to visit with, presents to buy, and just a whole lot of stress in general. Grief adds an extra layer to that stress. When you are already missing someone it can be really, really difficult to handle those things. It can be really, really difficult to even WANT to handle those things.
This was our third Christmas without Gabe, and really in many ways it was just as hard as the first. I know I’ve mentioned Gabe’s loud personality before. That personality would REALLY come out on Christmas. He loved everything about it- the presents, the family time, the lack of school. And the cinnamon rolls. Our Christmas morning tradition since the boys were little has been to have cinnamon rolls. Not from scratch-the kind from the can- but they LOVE them. Gabe especially loved them. It’s one tradition we have kept up every single year and still do. It survived me going gluten free (it’s hard to make wonderful smelling cinnamon rolls that I can’t eat. A GF snickerdoodle cookie with frosting isn’t quite the same!). The cinnamon roll tradition also survived the first year without Gabe. It was hard and especially painful that first Christmas, but then again everything was.
Now that we just finished our third Christmas without him I have realized we will keep surviving, but also keep missing him. His exuberance will always be missing. That missing exuberance makes the holiday season exceptionally difficult for us. I’m learning that each year will look different, and that WE have to decide how each year will go. Those expectations I mentioned above? We get to choose how we handle them. Our little family that is now 4 has to decide how Christmas will look for us. We have to decide- not based on those expectations but on how we can best survive it and how it will be the least difficult for us. I don’t expect that everyone will understand- the vast majority truly can’t. But I do feel the need to remind others that as difficult as it may feel for one or two traditions to be altered, for my little family every single thing is altered. Every day, holiday season or not. So we just have to survive. We will celebrate, or not, as we see fit. We are not being selfish. We are surviving.