Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thankful Through Moments of Sadness

What is it about human nature-- or is it just my nature?-- that makes us, in the midst of thousands of reasons to be thankful, dwell on singular griefs and losses?

It's been a wonderful, and rough, holiday weekend.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family on the holiday. Each dinner was full of its own traditions. With the Ps, we ate too much, decorated turkey cookies, drew names for Christmas, and tolerated another original holiday play by all the grandchildren.

At the Rs, we ate too much, made Christmas lists and gingerbread houses, and, this year, we missed Grandpa. Grandma, through her grief support group, created a short memorial service that involved the grandchildren. It was lovely, and lonely. Even though we were all together, his absence is a void.

Todd and I, along with the two big girls, did a bit of wacky Black Friday shopping, but it is difficult to get too excited about bargains when online sales are so much more tolerable. We mostly just bought stuff for ourselves, anyway. I got a new vacuum I've had my eye on, and the girls found essential, tasteful Christmas sweaters.

Friday, it was back on the horse to work off that stuffing. We had a great workout and enjoyed kicking off the holiday season with our CrossFit friends. (Really, it's just the same as the rest of the year... Another day, another AMRAP.) No matter what's on my mind, it just feels good to keep moving.

The rest of the weekend has been our kickoff to Advent. We got lights strung in the shrubs and trees around the house and today Todd and the kids went with the rest of the Christmas Tree Club to choose the perfect tree.

While they were gone, (and, obviously, before the tree went up,) I hauled out all the totes of Christmas decorations and began to unpack them. This is where the mourning comes in.

It is well established that I am frugal, to put it nicely. I always shop after the holiday, when clearance markdowns make it possible, to stock up for the following year. Then, I pack up the storage boxes and forget until the season comes 'round again. It's like a pre-Christmas celebration when I uncover all the cool stuff I've found.

Today, I was alone with my memories. This is never a bad thing, but it still sometimes stings like a sucker punch. I was caught off-guard when I lifted the lid on one box and found these:

I bought these sweet, little nutcrackers last December for my FIL who collected them. Now, I thought about offering them to Amanda and Elisabeth to give to their friends as gifts, but I know the memory and the significance would strike them, too.

This is a flag I bought to decorate the gravesite of my beloved nephews, Michael and Truman. When I found it, I thought it was cute and festive and befitting two little boys. I did not know then that one month later I would be saying "hello" and "goodbye" to their brother Quinn. Now, the flag will fly for the brothers three.

Well, I'm quite drowning in it, now that I type out my emotions. Most definitely not what this season is about. I will be looking forward to a quiet return to routine tomorrow. I will be remembering even more, and I will focus on the gratitude, like how I feel when I remember I live here:

You know who else should feel really grateful about this scene? My kids. They beg every year for exterior Christmas lights. It never happens because:

1. I am a less-is-more kind of decorator.
2. We are so busy (lazy) the lights would stay up till May.
3. Our children got one parent with patience and another with time. You really need a combination to put up Christmas lights.

BUT, the weather was cooperative and I was going to feel festive if it killed me... And, I did it! It looks like Father Christmas spewed LED-laced barf all over our yard. And I only swore once. Now, that's a Christmas miracle.

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