I am not ready for Christmas this year. To be perfectly and completely raw and honest- I don’t want it to come. I don’t want to acknowledge it. I don’t want to celebrate it. I don’t want to hear song after song about a baby boy. I just don’t want it. Not at all.
Even thinking these thoughts throws me into a craze of confusion and backwardness, because for years, I have been the one who is itching to get out my Christmas decor, cheers loudly and unashamedly with the first radio station that turn to “all Christmas, all the time”, and has lights on the house no later than 2 weeks before Thabksgiving. Yes. I said Thanksgiving.
It has always been my favorite time of year. I love the joy and peace, I love the presents (yes, remember I said this was real and honest and I like presents!) and I love the extra time together with family. I love Christmas complete with the cinnamon pinecones a that welcome you into stores and sparkles and jingle bells that dangle from decorations. Christmas has always been wonderful and amazing and stupendously magical.
And now it’s all backwards. Now I’m the so-called ‘grinch’ of Christmas that wants to go hibernate until January. I glare at people’s decor. I avoid going to stores because I’m surrounded by red and green wonder. Our car is silent as we drive because I refuse to listen to those songs anymore. The magic mocks me, the joy annoys me. It’s just so extremely and completely different now.
Nobody gets it.
People are starting to ask when I’ll be putting decoraions out and the lights up. People ask of Christmas lists. Soon there will be talk of Black Friday and plans of going to cut down our Christmas tree at the farm. Christmas festivals, secret Santa, and holiday parties are not far off. It’s all coming.
I tell the closest ones “to be honest I’m just not ready for the Holidays. I’m not ready for Christmas and a new baby niece and presents and joy plastered all over the place. It hurts to see so many smiles and such ‘cheer’ “. It hurts to not be ‘ready’ despite a 7 month gap between my son dying and this. It hurts to feel ‘disapproved of’ when I do take the risk and open up to this question and answer honestly. It hurts to see their inquisitive yet confused look and hear their responses of “Well, I don’t know why it’s a big deal. He would want you to be happy. Just picture him dancing with the angels on Christmas.”
So many thoughts and emotions and feelings come from those few simple sentences. So.Many.
(So, remember that “being real” part I talked of… Here goes…)
So many things are wrong with that statement
If you are a bereaved mama, you know that words like those bring heat and anger instead of rest and assurance. If you aren’t a bereaved mama, this may seem ‘harsh’. But maybe it’s what you need to know too…
“I don’t know why it’s (holidays, Christmas, decorating, shopping, etc …) a big deal”
OK- first because losing a child and surviving at all is a ginormous accomplishment. Period. Having your child die, and surviving the ‘happiest time of the year with some form of a smile on your face… Miraculous.
The holidays are always a big deal. People go into debt to be prepared for these days. Wrapping paper is sold in epic quantities and People take off work to cook dinner. Decorations are bought and careful care to put them up ‘just perfectly’ is taken. People go shopping at the crack of dawn and don’t return till dark. The holidays… Yes, they are always a big deal.
Having to endure them without your little one… Impossible beyond words.
“He would want you to be happy”.
Yes, probably, you are right ‘one who has not lost a child’… But my heart is not ready to hear this. I want to be sad. I want to mourn and grieve because that is the only thing I have to give him and his life. I don’t want to be happy. Happiness seems fake and fickle, it seems shallow and insensitive given everything we have been through.
Maybe, just maybe, Philip doesn’t care if I’m happy or not. He’s probably so focused on Jesus that he doesn’t even think of me… And that is not a thought that brings me any bit of comfort. I want to avoid it all together. That thought pains me too much because all I think of is him. I think of him in everything. Everywhere. It doesn’t matter- those ‘Should’ or ‘shouldn’t’s”- the fact is that I do.
I want my sweet little one to want to be here with me…with us. I don’t know if I want to think about how happy my little boy is without me in his life. My heart is not ready for that.
“Just picture him dancing with the Angels on Christmas”
While that is a lovely sentiment, and even a gorgeous image… And could, very well, be completely truthful… I do not want him dancing with the Angels on Christmas.
I want him dancing with me, as the lights are low, late at night, him curled up in my chest, sleeping soundly and breathing evenly, as I move my feet to the sweet sounds of “silent night”.
I want to have to step away from the dinner table to go nurse the little boy who controls my life.
I want to have to take the Christmas picture beneath the tree 47 times because all of them keep looking the ‘wrong way’.
I want to have a little like of gofts labeled “Philip” and get to have him nestled in my lap as we open them and ‘ooh’ & ‘ahh’.
I want him here.
Picturing him dancing with Angels does not change or “fix” my pain. It doesn’t bring me comfort.
In fact it feels like a slap in the face.
Those simple phrases tell me more about how I “should be” over this, how it is “unacceptable” for the holidays to be hard for me, and how broken and truly awful it is that I’m “still on this”. These words (and others like them) tell me “I don’t care about you”. They say “your child doesn’t matter”, “I have better hugs to do/worry about than you and your child, so Here’s some words that sound great”… but little known to the ‘outsiders’ literally tear me up inside. The mama bear anger rises within me at these words that sound so good, yet cut so very deeply.
Bereaved mama- you don’t deserve this.
You don’t deserve to have to hear and feel all of this on top of what you’re already enduring. You ‘shouldn’t have to do this too. And I wish you didn’t.
But I think we all do. Like it or not, we will hear these words and others that will make our skin curl and our heart burn.
And, as Christ loving womens, we must have grace with them. They don’t understand… How could they?
We must have love. Love overcomes all things, as love is of God.
We must be respectful in our words and actions so as to honor the one they are so rudely (and unknowingly) putting down. And to show them that even in pain, we are strong.
We must be Jesus…. Most especially in these moments.
I love these verses from Colossians 3:12- 15: Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (nlt)
Words are a powerful powerful tool we have to either build up or tear down. Words tell of both love and hate, anger and joy. Words define us, describe us, help us, hurt us, survive us.
Use yours wisely.