grief, loss, and christmas (traditions) ⭐️🌲

Sunday, December 9, 2018

It’s going to be the first Christmas without my mum this year. I haven’t celebrated at homehome for the past two years, but my mum as well as the rest of my family have nevertheless always been a part of my Christmas. Not as much of the holiday itself, but of the feeling Christmas gives me – beginning in late November all throughout January.

I grew up with very many Christmas traditions – a lot of them I liked, some of them I didn’t or simply grew out of. Not because I grew up necessarily, but because I changed over the years – as we all do.

I revel in the freedom that celebrating Christmas in my own home grants me. It lets me stick to old traditions that I love and at the same time allows me to come up with something new and make my own rituals without letting them become rigid doctrines.
This freedom is what I hope will make the first Christmas without my mum a bit more bearable. I can hold up traditions in her memory, or acknowledge the fact that everything has changed forever with leaving other traditions behind.

For example, as a child I could never have imagined going on vacation over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I wanted to be at home, under our Christmas tree, with our cat, lots of chocolate and my new books and things. Christmas still is a very homely holiday for me — … but should this form of celebrating Christmas – at home with a tree, lots of food and presents etc., at any point in the future not resonate with me anymore or feel off in any way because I miss my mum so much (or for any other reason), I’d definitely consider a change of scene and going away for the holidays. Maybe not always, but one year, just to see how I like it.

What I’m trying to say is that I do love traditions, but I don’t want them to be a constraining corset, just because I never dared question them or ask myself: »Do I actually enjoy this or am I just doing it because that’s how we’ve always done it?«

I do wonder though, if my wanting to change things up and make my own traditions etc. is an attempt to (maybe unconsciously) deny that I will never have a Christmas with my mum ever again. But does steadfastly holding onto things that might be painful without her being there, but that »we’ve always done on Christmas« or »without which it’s not really Christmas« honor her memory or keep her alive within these traditions she’s maybe helped form? Or is it just pure desperation?

There are Christmasy things I strongly associate with my mother that I still very much enjoy doing because it makes me feel close to her. Like making an advent wreath (from scratch or simply decorating a bought one) or Christmas baking.

I have a framed photo of my mum on our wall in the kitchen – she enjoyed cooking and baking a lot – and so do I. When I’m kneading cookie dough at the kitchen table and look up, I see her and think of the many times I baked Christmas biscuits with her as a child. When I was still too small to be able to reach the worktop and had to stand on a footstool. It is then that I feel like she’s baking with me. 
When I made these kinds memories as a child or a teenager or young adult, I didn’t know that one day they would be the most precious possessions I had. I didn’t know and couldn’t have imagined that I’d only be 30 when I had to visit memories in order to see and feel my mum’s presence. Thirty, not sixty-five and with children of my own.

Christmas this year – all the future Christmases – will be (very) different. Different and difficult, but I am determined to find, see and appreciate all the warm and wonderful small moments that I’m sure will be there as well.

Whishing you a Christmas time full of big and small wonders … despite of what might be going on in your lives. ❤️

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