Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new kind of Christmas.

                                          I love you all dearly, now don't shed a tear
                                         because I will be spending my Christmas with Jesus this year. 
                                                              Love Martin

Everywhere I look, listen, smell, proof of Christmas is in the air. I used to love this time of year. I would listen to Christmas music, put lights up, make Christmas decorations. But I would never get stressed out, because I wasn't hosting Christmas dinners. I could take the best of Christmas and enjoy it. And I did.

When I was growing up and living with my parents, I would get up early just to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree and let the light shine on the other ornaments. It sparkled like diamonds.

But unfortunately by the playing with the lights would wake up my mother and I would get caught and put back to bed. But it didn't change the way I felt about Christmas. I never saw the stress my mother and all other mothers felt during the month of December. Shopping for food and presents, making the food, cleaning, getting a tree and so on.

For some reason I believed it all just magically appeared. When I moved out and got my own family, we would still have Christmas evening at my parents.  When we arrived, I could smell, hear, feel and let us not forget, eat Christmas.

I would take Martin to the Christmas tree and we would play with the lights. It made him laugh. We would sing Christmas songs and enjoy each others company.

However Christmas soon lost its' magic.  We no longer sang Christmas songs and it felt like the the only way we communicated was through sarcasm and making fun of each other and I didn't want to participate. But to me Christmas is about family, so knowing how the evening would turn out, I tried to create my own Christmas tradition with Martin. In Denmark the 24th is the "big" day.  We would go to my parents late afternoon, so Martin and I had our celebration during the day.
Actually it started way before the 24th.

The first weekend in December we would go down and buy a small tree and we would decorate it. Well, technically I would do the decorating, as Martin couldn't, but he would be watching and his eyes would light up when I put the ornaments on. He got some on his table, he could touch and he loved it. Sometimes he would utter some sounds as if to tell me, that I should move an ornament. We would listen to Christmas music and just have a good time.

During the day on the 24th, I would take him out of his chair and sit with him. I would read Christmas stories and sing Christmas songs. It was clear to me that he recognized some of them. It was my favorite time of the day and I didn't want it to end. But I had to go to my parents house to celebrate Christmas with my family, knowing that nothing could top what had gone on earlier and knowing that at some point in the evening, some would be fighting.

The last few years of Martin's life, we had to move Christmas eve to my sister's house, because I could no longer carry him up to the 3rd floor in my parents' apartment building. 

Every Christmas Martin and I had our time together, which I enjoyed. But I must admit, I didn't look forward to the evening.

Christmas 2006 Martin and I stayed home. Martin had a fever and slept all evening. At that point I didn't know it was to be his last Christmas.

Martin died in May of 2007 and Christmas that year was tough to get through. I went out to my sister's house.  I don't know if it was for my sake or not, but for some reason, there were no Christmas tree, which made it a little easier, but I kept looking at the space at the dinner table, where his chair used to be.  so the real severity of the day didn't really dawn on me until i got back home. It was and felt very empty and I could hardly look at it.

When I came home that night, I just broke down. I have never really understood why there are so many suicides during Christmas. Now I do.

It is all emotions doubles during Christmas. If you are happy and joyous, you feel more happy and joyous.

If you feel lonely and sad, you feel extra lonely and sad during Christmas.

This year is the 5th Christmas without Martin and you might think, that I should have gotten better at handling it by now.
I haven't. December is emotional  to get through. Even if I don't live in the same country anymore and I have no history with Martin here in the US, I keep thinking when I look at all the lights: Martin would have loved this.  Or what should I get him this year? 

This Christmas will be very special. Mike and i are going to host our first Christmas eve together. This will also be the first time I host it. 

I will try to make it a Danish Christmas, to keep my memories of Martin and my "old" country alive but also incorporating some American customs, as this is where I live now.

I look forward to being with my new American family, but the hole in my heart, that Martin left can not be filled and it shouldn't. I know Martin will be there in spirit, but let's face it, that is just not enough.

But even if i will be missing him and my heart is breaking, I will not let it overshadow the joy I do feel about the magic of Christmas.

One thing I have learned. Be grateful for the things you have instead of focusing on the things you don't have.

So I will promise myself, I want to have a very merry Christmas. I know there may be tears of sadness, because Martin is not here to laugh at the lights and that is ok, but he is still loved and missed. But who knows, he might just be standing right next to me, when I go and play with the Christmas lights.

I wish you and your family will take a few moments away from the Christmas stress and really allow yourself to feel the joy and magic of Christmas and each other.

Merry Christmas.