Well, I made it. While the season is not yet over, I have made it through my first Christmas. I’m told (from those more seasoned than I) that the second Christmas / year is harder than the first. Perhaps that’s true, but for now I will allow myself a little bit of self satisfaction knowing that I made through number one. And I’m still here to tell the story.
Every day is a mixture of good and bad, but in honour of Christmas I’ll start with the good part.
Back in November I wrote this post about Christmas stockings (click here) and I mused over the fact that I would never again open a stocking from Ben. He did great stockings, and that is honestly something I will miss so much. So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I wandered downstairs and discovered that my empty stocking had been moved from the fireplace onto the chair, and it was stuffed. Full. It was overflowing. And I will confess to getting a bit teary eyed as I realized (thought) that my sweet parents had stuffed my stocking after I had gone to bed.
When my Mom came into the family room for our morning coffee I moved my stocking and all the contents (everything was wrapped individually so I couldn’t peek) onto the floor so I could sit on the chair, and I said to my Mom “You didn’t have to do that.” I was referring to the fact that she and Dad did not have to fill the empty space in my Christmas by taking over the stuffing of my stocking. Mom didn’t answer me but I assumed that was because her hearing is a little less than it once was (sorry Mom), or because sometimes we all just don’t know what to say in those moments where you find yourself trying to stem the waterworks.
Anyway, I was distracted from the full stocking because everyone wandered downstairs and I was busy taking the yearly Kids-On-The-Stairs photo….
…. and we all went into the family room as per tradition to open our stockings. When the kids were finished, I started in on mine. I forget exactly what I said but at some point while unwrapping the many gifts I said something that made my mom respond, “I didn’t give you that.” Whaaaattt??? I assumed she was joking but she insisted that she had not stuffed my stocking. At least not with all those wrapped gifts.
I looked at the kids and asked them who stuffed my stocking, and each of them denied it. Zak said that if he had done it he would have taken the kudos for it (haha) so I knew it wasn’t him. A Christmas miracle, it seems. It certainly did appear as though Santa had popped down the chimney after we all went to bed, and I was briefly creeped out as I thought about the fact that an unknown person appeared to have been in the house. (Then I thought we had the makings for a made for tv Christmas movie.) Anyway, after much prodding I managed to get a teeny confession from Jaime …. she knew who had filled my stocking and she had helped by getting the gifts into it, but she refused to tell me who it was. She still will not say, and I swear I have no idea at all.
This is what I unwrapped …
It is possible that a few items were left out when I took this picture, but let me just say to whomever is my Santa … thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so moved that someone would do that for me…to try to fill in where Ben is not able. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated your efforts to try to ease my pain. Thank you.
Christmas morning continued …
…. and there were smiles amongst the underlying sadness.
Eventually we were finishing up with the gifts and for some reason (I forget exactly) I ended up opening the front door and discovered a note. Well, technically I did not discover the note immediately. I actually discovered this:
I discovered this gigantic Santa sack sitting on my front porch, overflowing with gifts. What the heck? After hiring a crew to lift it into the family room, I opened the note that came with it:
I am not often rendered speechless as my nearest and dearest are well aware, but today I was. As I write this I am teary over the love that flowed from that Santa sack. I know it was put together to try to help ease the pain of not having My Ben here to be my “Santa”, but in fact what it actually did was serve to remind me, once again, that there is still love in my life.
Paula (Kathy), Connie, Susan, Lelita, Teresa, Christine, Nancy, Lisa, Beth, Jackie, Barb and Lisa … what can I possibly say to you? There is nothing adequate. Thank you. Thank you for thinking of me, and of the kids, when you all have your own families and your own things going on. Thank you for walking with Ben and I every minute of his last nine months. Thank you for your constant love and support. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for being gentle with my heart. Thank you for your understanding when my head is not in the game. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone. Thank you for knowing how much it hurts. Thank you for being there for me when Ben died. Thank you for still being there for me a year later, and for being a constant reminder that all is not lost forever in my world. Thank you for your friendship. Thank your for the coffees, the shopping, the laughs, the tears, the dinners, the quiet company, the hugs, the workouts, the pep talks, the yoga, the texts. Thank you for the insanely overstuffed stocking that made me smile, that I loved so much, and not one bit of that love was due to the actual gifts (although….come on you crazy ladies … who could not love all that?!) but because I was reminded that even when I’m alone, I’m not alone. So … just … thank you.
When the house was quiet and everyone had left for a bit, I had time to do this …
It was a nice visit. I didn’t cry. But I did do a shot of Kracken while I stood there. 🙂
Tonight there was this:
That is the table I worked on for weeks. Napkins folded courtesy of Jaime. Shot glasses to release the Kracken (why couldn’t he have loved a nice white wine?). Empty spot at the head of the table for Ben. And there was this:
And then there was this …
And although Chase wasn’t at our dinner table, I stole this picture taken today from Raegan’s Instagram, because his presence was missed tonight:
So there you have it. That was our Christmas. The first without Ben, but I never really felt alone.
Mom and Dad … if I failed to mention it while you were here (and I think I did), thank you for staying here with us. Your presence made it easier. And thank you to all the others out there who came by over the last week to drop off baking and the champagne – because there is really nothing that can’t be helped by deliciously unhealthy eating and some bubbly, am I right?
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that every day is a mix of good and bad. I started with the good, and honestly I do not have anything bad to follow. Sad? Yes. Lonely? Yes. I don’t anticipate that ever changing because Ben is never coming back, but I did not feel alone. Life without Ben is sad, and there’s no getting around it. Ever. But I did not feel alone.
So thank you. And Merry Christmas.