a bittersweet Christmas

Christmas has always been one out of my three favorite holidays. Thanksgiving and Easter are the other two. Birthdays are special of course, but Christmas is the One. It is most special and important because it’s the birthday of Jesus, a testament of God’s love for us as it says on John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him,”. Christmas to me is also a beautiful Christmas tree with gifts from the heart around it, and caro ling, and giving to others, and lights outside with a Christmas wreath on your door, but it’s more about the whole magic and love that comes with it that makes it the best time of the year!

So I grew up in a Non-Denominational Christian household. We had a Christmas tree up until my parents realized it was a pagan practice, so no more Christmas trees since I was about 8 or 9 years old. I kept begging for one each Christmas, and was always told I could do as I pleased whenever I had my own house. I’d buy gifts for my family and friends, we’d have Christmas dinner at home of course, but I’d go to my friends’ houses, and with sadness I’d see their Christmas trees up with presents around, and their stories of their great Christmas mornings, and I wished and hoped I’d have one of those awesome Christmas mornings one day at some point in my life. Then Richard came into my life.

Richard loved Christmas and Thanksgiving, and the rest of the holidays. He bought a rotating beautiful tree when he bought his condo in 1999 and started collecting ornaments. When we got married in 2004, we made Christmas one our most exciting times of the year, and the beginning of our traditions, decorating the tree and the house inside and out, got presents for our loved ones, made a special dinner for Christmas Eve and opened our presents on Christmas morning followed by spending the whole day drinking hot cocoa, eating left overs and watching Christmas movies. Richard made sure I’d get to make up for all the missing Christmas celebrations, and I was beyond excited to celebrate my beloved Christmas.

My love for keepsake ornaments came from Richard. We started getting ornaments that had a special meaning to us, like our first Christmas together, or getting our first house together ornament, or our dogs ornament, or anything significant we had throughout the year. So the years passed and also our ornament collection. In 2010 we finally had a baby, we got more than one ornament of course. In 2012, I got his tree up with the star on top, we had very low key Christmas after I graduated from nursing school, then Richard passed away on the 28th, and our lives changed forever. Yes, I got an ornament to remember Richard before the year was over.

For Christmas 2013, Samuel and I were at the transition house and we made the best of our circumstances. I got our Christmas tree out, a lot of the lights were out, got it all fixed up after hours and hours of working on it. Samuel was excited to see the tree up, to get the gifts Santa had brought him, and I was just happy my kid was happy and to see our special ornaments on our tree. For the next couple of Christmas, got a skinny Christmas tree up for convenience and for our limited space. Some of our ornaments made it to the tree, some didn’t. 2016 was also bittersweet because we lost my Zoe, but then we came back home after getting a house a block away from our house with Richard. That Christmas we got the skinny tree up with most of our ornaments and a train going around it, which made Samuel so happy even though our family shrunk down again.

Christmas 2017 was a special one. For one, my Samuel understands a lot more, and comprehends a lot better what the meaning of Christmas really is. Samuel also got to give small presents to some of our closest friends, and he felt awesome after realizing how great it felt to make others happy. Samuel also told both Santa Claus guys he wanted a dad for Christmas and that he was going to get me a Christmas gift, that they didn’t need to get me anything! We both went to the Hallmark store and got our special ornaments. We also went over the ornaments we had missed from previous years and got them online. We got the old rotating tree up, and the skinny one as well. We added a whole lot of lights to it and together, we added all our special ornaments to Richard’s “fat” Christmas tree.

Tonight will be our 5th year without Richard. So much has happened to us, we’ve gone through a lot, we have both grown a lot, we found a great church that has been a huge blessing to our lives, and we have met wonderful people along the way. If Richard was here, he’d be so proud of the little man Samuel has become. We have become quite the little team here, we have our moments, we have embraced our life, we get our sad moments, we talk about it, we hug a lot, we pray even more, then we keep going.

So, with the help of God and the million prayers behind us, we will continue to be alright. We’ll go into 2018 together, ready for new challenges, ready for our next chapter. It’s time to continue on with the new period of our lives, get ready for whoever may come into our lives to complete our little family, maybe a guy, maybe a dog. Definitely we’ll be just happy we made it to yet another year…

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all!

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