Most people still have their pumpkins sitting out front. My kids are still all hopped up on candy that they
begged trick or treated for. My house is covered in little piles of candy wrappers. Halloween is still very real. Someone should tell that to the retailers.
Yesterday I went to Walmart, the day after Halloween. Christmas carols were blaring over the speakers. I just shook my head, mildly entertained. "They do rush things" I muttered to myself. I then headed over to the grocery store, only to discover that they had up a Christmas tree and a giant gingerbread house... seriously? For God sake, it was only November the first! Did the workers have to pull an all-nighter to take down the Halloween decorations, and then put up the Christmas ones? When did this trend begin? This is the earliest I ever remember it.
I was no longer mildly amused, I was a bit mad. How dare they push this down my throat. Then I remembered that I had issues with Christmas. It was mildly irritating, but really, anger inducing? For me Christmas is a double edged sword. I used to love Christmas. It was magical. It was always stressful trying to afford to do Christmas the way that I wanted it, but it was still magical. That all changed December 24, 2004. That was the day my Gabe died. That was the day my world crashed down around my ears. It was the day Christmas, and more importantly life as we knew it forever changed for our family.
I vividly remember that first Christmas morning. There was not a part of me that did not ache, but what ached the most was my heart. I had an incision that went from just below my diaphragm, to just above my pubic bone. There were staples keeping me together. (When I got home from the hospital Grace who was 3 asked why the doctor had sewn a zipper on my tummy.) There was not a part of my body that was not bruised. I had just received a blood transfusion, and was in my room completely and utterly alone. I lay there in that room wishing that I could just cease to exist. I had no thoughts of suicide, I just did not want to be in that much mental anguish, I did not want to have to feel anymore. I lay there wondering where was my Christmas miracle. How could this possibly be possible? How could a healthy nine year old boy be dead? I was so weak that I needed help to get to the bathroom and was not even strong enough to flush the toilet for myself. As I lay there I heard in the distance Christmas music, a band to be exact. It was getting closer. I could feel waves of panic welling up in me, panic and all consuming anger. I struggled to get out of my bed. The band was getting louder, closer. It was the Salvation Army band. Here were this group of selfless people donating their Christmas morning to bring cheer to those in the hospital, but that is not how I saw them. I frantically tried to stomp to the door, to close it, to shut out their Christmas cheer. It would have been very comical to see, were it a different situation. I was too weak to shut my door easily. I had to put all of my weight into it. I was sobbing, and cursing. I am a polite person normally. I would never swear in public (in private when the kids are not around I could give truck drivers a run for their money). I was sweating profusely, in agony, telling the band to "FU*& OFF!". Thankfully their music was too loud to hear me. I finally got my door shut. I stood slumped against the door, praying for the strength to make it back to my bed, wondering if I was going to pass out. I don't know how long I stood there. After a while my anger fizziled out. I then lay there wondering how my babies were. Did my sister find all of the Christmas gifts? How was Grace? I had never been away from them for more than a few hours. That set the stage for our Christmas's to come. It was that parental balancing act. That balancing act where you put your children's needs ahead of your own needs.
I try to make Christmas magical for my kids, but I don't feel it. Christmas reminds me of what I have lost. Everyone is happy, saying Merry Christmas, but inside I am dying. Inside I just want my beautiful little boy back. I want to wake up from this nightmare, and play video games with my son. Double edged sword. I am a mother first and foremost. I want my children to have a wonderful childhood, that includes beautiful Christmas memories. I do some of my best acting at Christmas.
Looking at the grocery store's Christmas displays gave me a shove. It was a reminder that I had to put as much into place as I could before the darkness fell upon me. It was that reminder of the ghosts of Christmas past, and the ghosts of Christmas' to come. It was time to make lists, to make plans. It was time to face Christmas.