Everything looks almost the same; the Christmas lights are hanging from the roof, the old Santa and his sled are standing out on the porch, and the tree is all decked up and shimmering in the living room. Everything looks exactly the same when the holidays arrive, but the absence of one person makes it all feel very different.
No matter how much I try to replicate every little detail from those beautiful Christmas memories that I have, nothing has ever felt the same since my mother passed away. Without her, the holidays feel incomplete.
1. The time of the year I cherished has become the time of the year I dread
Every year, my mother would be the first in the neighborhood to put out the decorations and start the traditions early, bringing in Christmas in a truly memorable way. When I was younger, I would eagerly circle the dates off until Christmas arrived because my mother made the season so enjoyable. But now, I dread the days going by because when Christmas arrives, I sometimes think of just crawling into bed and laying there the entire day.
2. The old traditions have become painful reminders of my loss
In almost every fond memory I have of the holidays, my mother was an indispensable part of them. I remember waking up in the mornings to the smell of cookies baking in the oven as I went down the stairs, I’d hear her bellowing laugh as she joked away with my father. By evening, as the sun sets on those cool December days, I remember all the heartiest conversations we had on the porch with my mom sitting in her favorite armchair.
But now, with her gone, the emptiness I feel without her around during Christmas is unbearable. Every tradition of ours is a painful reminder of her no longer being here. Sometimes during these December evenings, for the faintest second, I feel like she’s sitting there in her chair, laughing, but only for a fleeting moment.
3. No longer do I look forward to meeting friends during the holidays
As the holidays come around, I start hoping that my friends don’t invite me to family gatherings and dinners. When I see them dining with their entire family around them and making memories, I can’t help but question why my mother had to be taken away so soon. Why did it have to happen before she could give my own children the same memories that she gave me? I’m still not over my mother’s death and there’s no ounce of strength in me to put my grief aside and pretend to be alright while dining with a bunch of people.
4. Celebrating without her sometimes makes me feel guilty
I know my mother would want me to be happy, to join my cousins and friends in my jammies and watch silly Christmas movies. But strangely so, I would feel guilty for doing certain things with others that were special between me and my mother. The things we used to do, like making gingerbread houses together and staying up on Christmas eve watching our favorite holiday movies are things that I can’t imagine doing with anybody else. Her laughter, her jokes, and her company can never be replaced by anyone else.
5. Things will never be the same, but they can be different
It hurts me so much to think that Christmas will never ever be the same as it was when my mother was with us. Our family traditions will never feel the same and the holidays will never be the same. But maybe, it can be different. Maybe, we can make new traditions.
It might be the hardest thing to let go but it might be the necessary thing to do. Home may always feel empty and we may never do the old things like singing mom’s favorite Christmas carol again. But we can always remember her for the joy she brought to others and make new traditions that honor her memory.