I’m not big on Christmas. I’m not a Grinch or anything, I’m just…apathetic. As with pretty much every holiday (birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc), I could take it or leave it. I’m not sentimental, I don’t place a huge value on traditions, so I mostly just show up for the food and spend a lot of time thinking about Jesus. But if I had the opportunity to have another Christmas with my husband…I’d put up the lights in November, build an epic playlist, have all my shopping done before Thanksgiving, and deck the halls like they’ve never been decked before.
Christmas with my husband was amazing. It was the one time of the year where our disagreements and mutual frustrations took a backseat. Nobody slept on the couch on December 24th. Partly we did it for our kids, but mostly we did it because being part of something at Christmas time is incredible. We wanted to share that with each other.
I remember year after year, a fake tree haphazardly decorated with an eclectic mix of beautiful ornaments and messy school crafts. I remember discovering on our first married Christmas that we had matching blue and pink Baby’s First Christmas balls from the 80’s — what are the chances?!
I remember a Christmas playlist that acknowledged his love for Mariah Carey and mine for Elvis. I remember movie nights: a shared holiday appreciation for Die Hard; suffering through Love, Actually because it was his favourite; him putting up with my crush on Vince Vaughn throughout Fred Claus and Four Christmases.
I remember how he made going to church a priority. Not because he felt really on fire for God at that point, but because it was so very important to me. I remember one year being so sick in bed that I had to miss the kids’ church pageant, but he got those little lambs (in costume, not temperament) there in one piece and brought back videos and pictures for me.
I’m not a material-lover, but I do remember the gifts. I remember because every time I see advertisements addressing clueless men on how to shop for their women, I feel warm inside knowing that my husband was a first class gift-giver. He paid attention to things I wanted and bought them. He noticed the things I didn’t know I needed and bought them. He gave me things even when he didn’t understand my appreciation for them (like the DVD on the history of royal weddings in the UK). One year he gave me an antique upright piano, and it is still my most treasured (and probably valuable) possession. A while back I wrote a post on what it’s like to be known, and the gifts people give you are an excellent indicator of how intimately you are known by those around you.
I remember shopping for the kids with him. Despite my apathy, we developed traditions like putting a board game under the tree every year, and stockings always had at least one book. Christmas joy in kids is an incredible thing to witness, and we shared in that joy together.
This will be my third Christmas since his death. I’m letting go of some things (no Mariah or Love, Actually this year) but keeping others (board games and books). I will spend this holiday revelling in the miracle of Jesus’ birth, witnessing the joy of my kids, and missing him like crazy. I will remember and attempt to recreate the way he made mashed potatoes, I will laugh about hilarious things that happened over the years, and I will miss him like crazy. But in the middle of the grief is still a glow of thankfulness that I have so much of him to remember.
What are you remembering this Christmas?