It's here. I feel it. That joyous, family, light-filled time of year. And yet, I feel that anxious trepidation of vacancy. The holidays come with so many expectations, lists and endless "shoulds." We often hold ourselves captive to our traditions when, in reality, they no longer hold meaning and may even create pain.
Two months after losing Chloe, I stood in front of the television, frozen, like an alien that was watching the holidays for the first time. I couldn't comprehend what was happening. Commercial after commercial advertising "things." My brain scrambled to make meaning out of the mess and the stress. That year there were no gifts, gatherings or traditions. There was no tree or lights. It was incomprehensible to recreate tradition just for the sake of it. The holiday was over as we had known it. We did what was now more meaningful. We got on a plane and headed for a change of scenery. Being in another place with nothing that resembled our past holidays eased the pain. And still, there were tears.
The next year there was a Charlie Brown tree with a few lights, and a trip to San Diego. The holidays that followed brought a move into a new house and a tree cut from the forest. We finally stayed home and bought gifts. It was good to be together but I found myself longing for some deeper meaning. I needed a new version of the season, a more honest one.
I started to look inward and ask myself what really brought me meaning, trying to move away from what I thought it "should" look like. This is what I came up with: