December 8th, 2001

butterfly

The most wonderful time of the year

I have not decorated for Christmas since S died. I haven't wanted to. When S and I lived together, we decorated our home both years for Christmas, and it was such a wonderful time. We had a row of 5 stockings, one for each cat, and for the two of us. We put up tons of lights on the tree (an artificial one), plus lights on the outside windows. The place looked so warm and festive. We piled presents under the tree. It was a happy time, full of love and anticipation.

Now, these days, all holidays, but Christmas in particular, remind me of all I have lost. Even now, 2 and a half years past his death, I miss him so. I miss those Christmas times together, and the holidays aren't so wonderful when the person you're supposed to spend it with is dead. There's just way too much love and happiness and warmth and family, and it makes my heart ache for all that is gone.

The first year, it was fairly easy to ignore Christmas. I had just bought a house, and moved in Dec 19. Obviously I was much too busy moving and unpacking and such to worry about Christmas. The next year, I didn't really have an "excuse", just didn't do it anyway. This year...this year I am attempting to decorate my house.

Why? Well, because I used to love it. I used to love the decorations, the bright pricks of light in an otherwise dark room, the festive atmosphere, just loved the whole thing. Christmas was a magical time for childhood and anticipation. I want to be one who is living and loving, celebrating, instead of grieving. This is my third Christmas without him. I want to spend this holiday focusing on good things, not lost things.

But it's not easy. It's not going well, so far. I bought a tree, a live one, my first one ever. Just the anticipation of buying it had me in tears as I was driving. I don't know, maybe because I have put it off so long, it's even harder. After all, this is my first time really "celebrating" Christmas without him.

I picked out a little tiny tree, it's probably only 4 feet high, littler than me. I told the guy I wanted a "Charlie Brown" tree. Remember, the little tree from the Charlie Brown Christmas special, where it's all little and scrappy, but he says, "all it needs is a little love". That's what I wanted. Best to start simple. It fit right in my trunk. The guy who put it there said, "that's the first time I've been able to close a trunk on a Christmas tree!"

Then I found a stand, took it home, and put it up. Bit of a struggle, getting it straight and centered on my own, but I succeeded. I put it on a box, so that it'd look good from the window, plus it raised it up a bit away from the cats.

Then came the hard part. I went to the basement and pulled out the box of my Christmas decorations. I have not just mine, but S's. Since we had lived together, his family had me keep almost everything that was his. Anyway, I haven't gone through this stuff since before his death. We packed up the whole box after Christmas, in the beginning of 1999. Then I just moved it with me, without looking in it. Now, I did. So many old memories in there. I gave him several ornaments for the 3 Christmases we were dating. There were some that we'd bought together, like a "new house" ornament from when we moved in together. And some that had belonged to him, from before I knew him. Plus, of course, those 5 stockings, with everyone's names on them. In his, I found a Superman pin, in mine, a keychain with a jade horse head on it...I don't remember where they are from or why. Just tons of memories, from happy holiday times, untouched since we put them away together. I kept crying and crying, remembering the various stories behind different items, remembering putting them all up in our house together. I struggled with the stupid lights, and knew S would have chastised me for allowing them to get tangled. An ornament from my sister, a reindeer, had a broken antler, which I have failed to glue back on. Ropes of tinsel, which I always found ugly but S liked, and somehow looked pretty on the tree when he was done, even though I didn't expect them to. All kinds of stuff.

I'm not done yet. Hopefully it will all look pretty and magical when I am through, and I will claim a little bit of Christmas back for myself. That's my goal through this, is to make this holiday beautiful once again. I've missed it. If I can just stop crying long enough to get everything on the tree, maybe it will work.
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