Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

‘Tis the Season

Monday, November 17, 2014
Posted By: 
Eden Maheras

For the widowed, there are many events or dates throughout each year that are just a little more difficult than others: the “sadiversary”, birthdays, wedding anniversaries. These come at different points on the calendar for each individual, but The Holidays are bound to be difficult for all of us. Once the Halloween decorations come down, we have about 5 minutes to take a few deep breaths and steel ourselves against the imminent assault of Christmas carols, commercials featuring happy whole family units, and reminders to be thankful. It’s not always easy to game-face it when coworkers and friends are discussing their happy family plans for the holiday season. It’s not always easy to feel sincere expressing thanks for what you have, when you can’t help but be reminded what you no longer have in your life.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not a Grinch. I am truly grateful for the many wonderful blessings in my life: my family (blood relatives and in-laws alike), the memories JP and I made together, my wonderful friends, and – above all else – my son Max. I don’t begrudge anyone their happy family holidays. With the support system I have and the joyful, amazing child I’m lucky to call my own, I do have happy holidays. And I am acutely aware that widows and widowers are not the only folks for whom the fa-la-la-la-la is a little fa-fa-fa-fa-fake.

Three years ago at this time, JP and I were getting ready for our first Thanksgiving as a family. We were planning for what we promised would be our last traveling Christmas (a long, uncomfortable drive from Chicago to Cape Cod and back, so that we wouldn’t have to board the dog for the holidays). We were excited to start our own family holiday traditions in Chicago. Of course, we never got the chance. And I have struggled with figuring out how to establish traditions for Max. I feel like I’m starting in an uncomfortable and unknown place, and blindly trying to find my way to something that feels “right” while fighting the inevitable sorrow and bitterness. Because we only had the one holiday season as a family, I have had to adapt anew each year, continuously thinking “next year I’ll figure out what the baseline routine will be.”

It’s not easy! Then there are other variables – like the fact that my dad works at an urgent care, and is working Christmas day from 8am-8pm, making it tough to figure out what to do on the 25th. And, the fact that I have a boyfriend of well over a year, with whom the holiday talks have been somewhat frustrating, primarily due to how lost I feel when it comes to dealing with the whole situation. I don’t have room for anyone other than Max in the equation right now. I understand that (as my boyfriend pointed out) though “the scenery will change,” I can establish traditions that are not rooted to one particular place or group of people. There is no shortage of classic holiday TV shows and movies, marathon cookie baking and decorating sessions, and of course decorating the tree - telling the stories behind the many “back of the tree” ornaments. As we gear up for the season, whether that means making gift-tracking Excel spreadsheets, navigating family politics, trying to keep a smile on for the kids, embarking on totally new traditions, or figuring out whether this year is the year you finally start sending out holiday cards again, I hope you find some peace and joy in the season. For me, despite not feeling like I’ve hit my holiday stride, I am going to make an effort to be in the moment, to really think about why I am thankful for the items/people on my list. And I am going to just do my very best to do justice to JP’s love for the holiday season, to really instill that in Max. (And maybe, just maybe, I'll send out those holiday cards...)


Love the..."fa la la is a little fa la fake!" We do it, we don't love it, but we do it. Way to forge ahead and you will find your way. Thank you for a great post.

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