Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Ramble

I’m just going to warn you now that this blog will probably make no sense.  To be this point, I’m too tired to even try.

I know a lot of us probably don’t remember this...but the holidays have always been exhausting, even before our loss.  Everything gets packed into about 3 weeks of holiday madness and on a good year we never really see daylight until about mid-January when the shock wore off.

Add on top of that the pure exhaustion of grief.  As I posted on my personal Facebook page the other day...I’m so tense I can’t move my neck and I think I’m one good sneeze away from throwing my entire back out. 

Now we are constantly wondering what to do in our state as WIDOW.  Do we have to see the in-laws?  What’s expected of us?  What’s expected of everyone else?  When is it okay to “just say no” without offending anyone?

What does it mean if I don’t decorate?  Does that mean I’m too depressed and I need to seek help?  What does it mean if I do?  Does that mean I’ve “gotten over it” or will it say to everyone else that I have?  Do I even care?

Gifts.  To send or not to send?  What if someone sends me something and I don’t send them anything?  Can I pull a George Costanza and send them a slip of paper saying I’ve donated money in their name to the “People Fund” and be done with it?

I’m wiped out just typing about it.

Wrapping gifts has been weird for me this year.  This is my 4th Christmas without my husband, but for some reason, I have come across more gift boxes and bags with tags on them for him.  It’s been jarring every time and I can’t figure out why that has happened more this year than in years past.  It can’t be that those have been stashed on the bottom of the pile...they should have been at the top that first year.  I’ve never made a conscious decision not to use them but this year they keep turning up (about every other bag...I’m telling you, it’s a lot) and seem to be shouting at me, “HE’S NOT HERE!  What?  Did you forget?”

No.  I didn’t.

All of these family activities.  All of these things that my husband would have griped about.  But that was his job and he took it seriously.  Like, the first year we took him to “The Nutcracker” when he was in his 30s...that was the first time he had ever seen it.  He spent the entire day at work, complaining to his co-workers that I was taking him to see “The Nutbuster” that night.

Gawd.  I miss that guy.

Then of course we got there and he was completely and utterly confused.  Now, I had been brought up seeing “The Nutcracker” just about every year since my grandmother taught ballet.  But seeing it through his eyes, as an adult and a stranger to the did seem a little odd. 

I finally heard him lean over to my sister and say, “Who’s the guy in the cape?”

And she leaned back and a little too loudly said, “That’s the weird psycho uncle.  Every family has one.”

Ahhhh...good times.

To tell you the truth...this year, I’m trying to do my best and make a conscious effort to have a good Christmas myself.  I’ve always concentrated on the kids and made sure that they were okay, but this year I want to enjoy it a little too.

I tried last year.  At the 3rd Christmas, I finally felt like I was coming out of my fog a little and like it was possible.  It seemed to have sunk in that there would be no big surprise for me from my own “Santa” in my stocking, but for the first time...I was okay with it.  I felt like I could finally appreciate just being.  Being with my family.  Being here and watching the holidays unfold.  Being appreciative of what I do have instead of focusing the entire day on what I don’t.  I made this decision early on, right after Thanksgiving, and really went at it at full throttle.

And then my sister called on December 8th and told me my dad was in the hospital.

My dad, my absolute favorite guy in the whole world (tied with my son), had had a knee replacement a year and half earlier.  And on December 8th had suddenly developed a staph infection in it.

What’re the odds of that???

He spent 8 days in the hospital (that’s when you know it’s bad...they won’t keep you for a week for anything) and had to have the knee removed.  Then he had to go in every day (Christmas day included) for IV antibiotics.  Months later, he had to have the whole thing done over again.

Now, as most of you can probably guess...after being through what I’ve been through...I’m not really your “go to gal” for hospital needs.  The beeping noises, the smells...and every hospital seems to have the same damn carpet...have you ever noticed that?

But I put on my big girl panties and did my part.  My sister and I got to the hospital as much as we could (but I’ll admit that she did more than her share).  I hoped and prayed that it would all turn out okay, while the doctors assured us that he would be fine.

In my case...I’d had that assurance once before and ended up coming home alone.

In the days following my dad’s diagnosis (and while he was still in the hospital), I lost a college friend of mine on December 11th.  One of the sweetest souls you could ever know with an infectious laugh that could never be duplicated.

So now my fear of hospitals had a fear of funerals.

My last “surprise” of the season (these things come in threes) came when my husband’s family called 2 days before Christmas and said they were driving out.  Now, I had already completely changed our plans from spending Christmas at my house to Christmas at my parents’ house since my dad couldn’t do stairs (which meant packing up “Santa” and getting it over to their house.  No small thing).  The possibility of company arriving on Christmas Day sent me into a frenzy of activity and, unfortunately, leaving my mother mid-day to cope with a gimpy husband, cooking, and dealing with 3 kids hopped up on Christmas so that I could get home, wash sheets, and rearrange some furniture to make sure we had room for everyone.

This year, thankfully, I have had no unexpected “events” (who would have thought that during the holidays I would be wishing for no surprises?).  Everyone is healthy (my dad has even played a few rounds of golf).  Everyone is remembering Christmases past...some good...some we’re still trying to figure out if we can laugh about them.  For the most part...other than the exhaustion I’ve just come to expect...things seem to be pretty quiet.

I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

For more blogs and articles from other widow(er) writers, join us at!  

© Catherine Tidd 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment