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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap- happiest season of all

Yep.  It absolutely used to be.  And I think that, one day, it will be again.  Thankfully, it is not something that I dread, but right now, it's definitely something that falls flat.  It's just something that falls a little short of wonderful.  It's one thing to accept that, as you become an adult, the 'awe' of the season becomes a little less magical; it's another to accept that any 'awe' that is left once you become an adult will never be the same because your first born will never physically be there as part of your holiday. 

I am growing to accept (but I am not quite there yet!) that most people think they are saying something good when they directly or indirectly reference Gracie.  I make a concerted effort to accept this only because I know that I would still be one of those clueless people unless Gracie had not died.  Had I not been given these shoes to walk in, I would totally not know the right and wrong things to say.

The gist of all of this year's well-intended statements: 'Oh, your Christmas will be so much better this year since you have that beautiful baby.' 

How to you respond to people to make that kind of statement?  For quite a while I have been in a position of not wanting to make people feel bad about not saying the right thing unless, of course, their statement appears to be intentionally malicious.  So you just nod and smile and move on.  You just let it roll of as much as you can.  But deep down inside you know that even in 50 years, although the holidays (all of them, not just Christmas) are better than they were in late 2009 and early 2010, they will never be the way they should be.  They will never be quite right.  Why?  Because nothing in life is the same after your child dies.

Death has a funny way of changing everything for the living.  Certainly, BLMs are not the only people to carry loss in their hearts during holidays and special occasions.  So many people out there carry loss with them; the losses of spouses, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends.  Others carry the loss of their children with them; these are the people to whom our group can most closely relate.  The difference between our group and the other parents is that most of them have celebrated holidays with their children; they were able to make holiday memories that they can hold onto and cherish until they are with those children again.  Some people make the argument that having a child, making memories and then losing the child is worse than losing the child before any memories can be made.  I suppose the argument can be made for each perspective, but sadly, neither is right and neither is wrong.  My point is the big picture of the world, so many people quietly muddle through holidays with loss nagging at them.  Quietly because the world expects the sharp and profound pain of the loss to just go away after a period of time.

The pain of losing Gracie will never go away, especially since I never had the chance to make any memories with her.  That leaves two options: bitterness that drags down everyone else around me and takes away from the memories that I can create with my living children OR finding a way to channel that pain into something that I can look forward to.  I have chosen to channel that energy into a few things that I (hopefully, we, as a family) can look forward to.

Although I really didn't feel like doing so last year, we did send out Christmas cards.  We included Gracie by creating a label to put inside in lieu of signing the cards; in the background of the label was a set of angel wings.  This year, we did a photo card.  We included Gracie's footprint butterfly that Malory made.  Including Gracie in our Christmas card is something that we will do each year.  Forever. 

Last year's label

This year's card

Last year we decided that we would buy Gracie one or two tree ornaments each year.  Last year's ornaments can be seen here.  We got a few more this year.  (If we keep this pace up, it's going to be hard to find new ornaments in a few years!)

I bought these for each of the girls this year. 

From the Midnight Orange

My dad painted a ceramic ornament for each of the girls this year.

From one of Jeff's good friends

Another tradition that we have started on Christmas Eve, and will likely continue for years to come, is a balloon release.  I used to be diabolically opposed to balloon releases for environmental reasons.  But now, quite selfishly, I look forward to the releases that we do.  My hope is to find a different way to incorporate Gracie and her angel friends onto the balloons each time we do the release.  This year we put angels on the balloons.  

Last year we suggested to our family and close friends that, if they felt compelled to do so, they purchase something that we could donate to Doing Good in Her Name.  After Christmas, we sent this stuff to Kristin and her husband to donate to the NICU/PICU at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.  We wanted to do the same thing this year, but after talking, we realized that we wanted to keep our donation a little closer to home.  So, again we invited family and friends to participate with us in gathering donations for the patients and families of the NICU and PICU at Geisinger Medical Center.  Last week we delivered a large box and two large bags full of donated items!!  Although we don't expect that family and friends will continue to do this with us, I anticipate that this is something that we will do each year. 

Last year Jeff got me a crystal angel bell from Gracie.  I dropped it and broke it Christmas night.  We fixed it and I broke it again.  And then one more time.  I am sure that I don't have to say how crushed I was.  Eventually, we decided to get rid of it, as it just wasn't salvageable.  He replaced it this year and put it up on Gracie's shelf as soon as I opened it.  I just have to make a permanent spot for it now.  

I hope that you all had relatively peaceful holiday celebrations surrounded by loving family and friends, and that you were able to remember your angel in some way as part of your celebrations.  Wishing you all an upbeat and pleasant week.  Much love to you all.


Supposed to be... "Mama G"... said...

I get the comments about Christmas too. This year.. I just wanted the entire holiday to disappear. But despite my bah-humbugery, it came and went, quietly. I'm glad to see you, Jeff, Jenna and Gracie had a nice Christmas. Gracie will always be there at every Christmas whether or not others realize it. Peace and Love to you all! <3

Dawn Brown said...

You come up with the most beautiful and creative ways to remember our little angels. Gracie's ornaments are beautiful!!

Maggie said...

I love everything you do for Gracie! I've been trying to accept people's comments for what they are, I realize people are trying to be nice, but every so often you wonder where the heck their coming from and it's hard to let it roll off your back so easily. Hope you had a peaceful holiday celebration too! I'm kind of glad they are all over. :)