The thought of a first Christmas typically brings warm feelings and a smile. The first #Christmas you had a boyfriend to exchange gifts with. Your first married Christmas. A child’s first Christmas. The first Christmas in your first home. My siblings and I have now had two first Christmases. The first Christmas after losing a parent is empty. The first Christmas after losing your second parent is just sad. We are now the oldest generation. That’s just scary (yes, comic relief there).
Our mother passed into eternity in #March. We took care of the details and are still working on closing her affairs. But it’s impossible to pack away the hype that she brought to Christmas. Mom loved to cook, and loved to buy presents. Weeks before Christmas, she was buying baking supplies; sugar, eggs, flour, jars, and jars of peanut butter for fudge. While we all offered to bring food, she insisted on cooking; chicken and dumplings, beef tenderloin, shrimp cocktail, and orange dip (it’s a family recipe). Last year she couldn’t get out to shop, but she made sure her great-granddaughters got dolls and her great-grandsons got remote control cars. Don’t be misled, there was plenty of drama along the way. But we all got through it, and we made sure that Christmas was as close as possible to what mom wanted.
Each of us is navigating this first Christmas without mom carefully and gently. There have been plenty of tears. Some at random moments, like passing the doll aisle in Target and not needing to go down it. Or other times when making a menu for our sibling Christmas gathering and my husband asked if I wanted to attempt to make mom’s Waldorf salad. “No, not yet.” Just couldn’t do it this year.
To my readers who are having the same kind of first Christmas consider this a virtual outreach and empathetic connection to say, “I understand.” Be in the moment with your family and friends. Don’t let your grief overshadow the goodness you may have right next to you. And when you need to cry, take a minute and let the tears go. Those who love you will understand. The best way I can honor my mother is to be generous and enjoy good food, and my family. That is what I intend to do.