Well it’s Christmas season. I got lots of cards…phone calls and messages suggesting to me how hard Christmas must be for me this year. It’s so appreciated and nice that people are thinking of me, but I have a bit of surprise.
I can honestly say that I am probably having the best Christmas of my adult life. Part of me feels terrible saying that. My husband died in June. We had a terrible four months before that. It is expected that people would think I would be having a tough Christmas. But I’m really not.
Yes, I miss Kramer. I miss him a lot….but fortunately Kramer wasn’t into Christmas and I don’t associate him with my feelings about Christmas. Let me explain…
In previous years I was the person who fretted about gifts. Who should I give them to? How much to spend? Were the dollar amounts equal? Was the number of presents equal? Did I seem happy enough, or surprise d enough when I opened the present? I bought Kramer a flannel shirt…AGAIN. I can never think of something to buy him. What if someone bought me something and I didn’t buy them anything?
I fretted about clothing. I’d go to church and see everyone dressed in red. Darn. Why didn’t I do that? Goodness knows I have something red. I could have at least worn a red scarf.
I was the person who fretted about Christmas cards. Did I write an okay letter? Did I have the Christmas stamps for them? Would the printer work to print the address labels? Would I run out of ink?
I fretted about the Christmas meal…did we have enough? Did we have too much? Did I make everyone’s favorite cookie? We didn’t get the roll out cookies made. I wore my home clothes all day and never put on the outfit I planned on putting on after the cooking was done. I forgot to make the popcorn balls.
From a week or so before Thanksgiving and right up to the day after Christmas, this was my constant brain….ping ponging everywhere….
On top of that…I hate the majority of the things I mentioned above. The only thing I really love is going to church and making cookies. The rest I don’t care about a stitch but have always wanted to “have the nice Christmas for the family”. I also hate anything that is the “commercial side of Christmas”…you know, the jewelry commercials that say they only care if they give you the best. UGH.
So what’s changed this year that all of that isn’t bouncing everywhere in my head?
My husband died.
I learned that none of that is something that I will ever stress about again. I learned what real stress is…
-waiting for a PET scan results
-driving in terrible weather to get to a needed appointment
-driving your husband to ER knowing he likely broke his neck
-the waiting and wondering if “this is the day” when he was a hospice patient
-the wondering if I was babying him and doing to much for him
-the wondering if wasn’t doing enough for him
-the frustration of a failed surgery
-the “playing along” with his thinking this will get better
-the stress of wondering if I could make it without him
I don’t want to downplay the stress of Christmas that I used to feel and that many do. I don’t want to trivialize the depression many feel over the holidays. It’s real and it’s tough. I know. I’ve been right there with you….
But. I’m not there this year.
My husband died and I know all the things I previously stressed about mean nothing to me now.
If I get a gift…I get a gift. If it’s not perfect, I no longer care. I tried.
If I don’t make the “right” cookies…I don’t care. I made some.
If I didn’t wear red to church…at least I’m not wearing black and burying another family member.
If I forgot a Christmas card to someone…hey, I forgot. They’ll forgive me and if they don’t, I don’t care.
So much in my life got put into perspective with Kramer’s death. So many of the things I thought were important, I have found are trivial to me now. I wish I had figured that out while he was still here. The holidays would have been so much happier for our whole family if I had…but I’m not going to dwell on that because it’s like the other things, not important anymore.
I was feeling good as Christmas approached and was worried about how Christmas would go…then I had to put my beloved dog Ruby to sleep the Sunday before Christmas. I was a little worried then how I’d do but what happened with Ruby, I didn’t associate with Christmas and even as hard as that was, that still was nowhere near the stress that came with Kramer’s diagnosis and eventual death.
So if you ask how I’m doing this Christmas season, don’t be surprised if I say really good. I don’t miss the stress and worry I had from previous years that surrounded Christmas. That can stay away. I do regret that losing my husband is what it took for me to see what is really important…what is worth stressing over. That was a tough lesson to learn. For now, don’t be worrying about me, I really am doing good. I’ll always miss Kramer. I’ll always miss Jody. I’ll always miss Ruby but the stressing over Christmas, I’ll never miss.
Please note that I do completely understand those of you who do and have had trouble with Christmas. I hope that at some point, you to can let go of the hard part of Christmas and see some JOY!