I reluctantly started pulling out Christmas decorations. My nearest and dearest will be here Friday to help me set up Christmas, but I thought I’d get a head start because (knowing myself well) I will want to get rid of plenty of the old Christmas decor. Why? (you ask). I don’t really know, actually. Partly because we have a lot of Christmas decorations and quite frankly I’m just not that into it anymore. Partly because I have found that I like to change things just enough that it helps ward off the bad memories of 2015 but still allows me to retain the good ones. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone reading this, but it does to me.
In any case, I pulled out most of the decorations and started separating them into two piles. The I-don’t-want-to-see-this-anymore pile and the I-always-loved-this pile. In doing so, I opened the box that holds our Christmas stockings. I looked at them for about half an hour, switching my attention between the actual stockings and the mantle on which Ben installed five hooks to hang them. And I cried.
Ben and I loved Christmas stockings. Really for the last several years it was pretty much what we did for each other for Christmas. Just the stockings. Let me tell you, Ben was a great stocking stuffer. He stuffed such a good stocking that I generally looked forward to it all year. Truthfully, the reason he was so good at it was because he would tend to leave it until the last minute and then, out of desperation, he would spend far too much money on everything I had ever mentioned that I wanted throughout the year. Gift cards, expensive underwear, sometimes new electronics, and all the latest and greatest gadgets. I loved it. And Ben loved it too.
Every Christmas morning I would wait for the kids to open their stockings and for Ben to open his, just so that I could concentrate on what I knew would be a very exciting stocking. Those five minutes pretty much put me on a high through the next two months. Sometimes three months if a new Iphone or Apple gadget had come out.
So when I pulled the stockings out this year I realized that on top of having to spend Christmas without My Love, I will never again get to experience his thoughtfulness in creating my yearly high. Never. Ever. Again. And so I cried. Isn’t it enough that I lost one of the best parts of my life? Isn’t it enough that I can’t hear his laugh anymore unless I filter through all my video clips and replay them over and over again? Isn’t it enough that every morning I wake up and once again remember that he isn’t here? Now I don’t get my stocking. And while I would obviously give up every gift, every stocking for just five more minutes with him, I’m still sad that I won’t see that stocking again. And I’m sad that I don’t get the opportunity to stuff his stocking either.
Which leaves me with the question …. how many stockings do I hang? Where does Ben’s stocking go? Where does my stocking go? Is it sadder to hang them up and see them remain in the same spot on Christmas morning …. empty … or just to not hang them at all?
I don’t have an answer to that question yet. I’m hoping it will come to me.
While I was filtering through the decorations I came upon this:
This is the book in which I faithfully recorded every Christmas we had together from the early 90’s until 2014 when the book was finally full. The irony is not lost on me that the last Christmas I was able to record was the last Christmas we were all together – happy and healthy. I’m not so sure I would have wanted to record any memories from last Christmas.
I opened just the first few pages of the book, and every year I found one of these:
I sure will miss those cards.
I ordered a candle for Ben. Specially made. Inscribed. It will remain lit every year. He deserves to be remembered.
On another note, I have finally done what I promised to do last January. I have managed to post the video clip of Zak honouring his Dad at Ben’s Celebration Of A Life Well Lived. And so while I ponder the stocking question, here it is for your viewing pleasure. This was actually one of the proudest moments of my life.