In the years before my children, I loved Christmas. I would put up my Christmas decorations on the earliest possible acceptable day, l would only listen to the radio stations that played all Christmas music all the time, and I would watch every Christmas movie I could find.
Last Christmas, I didn’t put up all of our Christmas decorations. I didn’t listen to a single Christmas song or watch even 1 Christmas movie. For the first time in my life, I did not go to church on Christmas Eve. Vivienne had been gone for 4 months, and her due date was on December 22. The Christmas spirit or any joy for the holidays was impossibly hard to find. I told myself it was OK to take a year off.
This year, I decided to push myself a little and got out all of the Christmas decorations. It didn’t take long for a complete and total emotional breakdown. I can’t even pinpoint it to one thing. In so many ways, this Christmas was supposed to be different.
Last year, I was in the depths of my grief. It was supposed to be the best Christmas we could ever have imagined – our daughter’s first Christmas, having welcomed her just days before the holiday. It was harder than I could have imagined to make it through that holiday without her, but I still had hope. We were getting ready to try again, and I believed that next Christmas would be different – we would have some joy in celebrating with Vivienne’s little brother or sister.
This Christmas was supposed to be different. It should be a time of letting some joy back into our lives. In many ways, it feels worse than last Christmas. Last Christmas, I had some hope that next year would be different. Now I know better, and I can’t find that same hope anymore.
So as I started putting up some decorations, I was reminded of all of the things I’m missing this year. I don’t have my 1 year old daughter playing with the ornaments, getting ready to see Santa, or picking out my favorite pictures of her to go on our Christmas cards. I don’t have the rainbow baby that we tried so hard for over the last year – a new life that would put at least a little joy back into Christmas. And I don’t have the hope that next year will be different. This could be our Christmas from now on – always grieving what could have been, but never seems meant to be.
I can’t quite decide what to do with myself now. It doesn’t feel right to put the decorations up, and it doesn’t feel right not to. Either way, it’s a reminder of all that is missing. I wanted this Christmas to feel like a step forward. I wouldn’t take another year off, I would move myself forward, whether I wanted to or not. Instead, I’m realizing how much more I’ve lost and wonder whether I’ll ever be able to find joy in this holiday again.