What are your favorite Christmas memories? I remember my sister and I excitedly running into the living room in our pajamas, anticipating what was under the tree, and my own children doing the same thing, years later. My all-time favorite Christmas memory happened just last year, when I opened my gift from my daughter and son-in-law. It was a letter board, which they knew I wanted. As I pulled it out from the package, however, my eyes laid on a message written on the board. It read, “Hi Grandma! August 2021.” The excitement that followed will forever be remembered in our family. “Christmas will never be the same,” I thought happily.
Christmas will never be the same…
Consequently, we all envisioned this Christmas with a baby. Our little four-month old grandchild would be the center of attention, receiving gifts from Grandmas, Grandpas, aunts, and uncles on both sides of the family. Indeed, with the addition of him or her, Christmas WOULD never be the same. We were looking forward to that.
Yet here we are, four months after our little one was born in Heaven. With shattered hearts, our family celebrates the birth of our Savior as we continue to mourn the death of our grandson, son, nephew. I especially watch my daughter as she processes the dream of what she thought would be and the reality of what is. I feel so helpless because I can’t fix this for her.
We know there are other people suffering as we are. Maybe you are trying to get through the holiday season and even celebrate to the best of your ability, all while daily being pulled down by the heavy weight of grief. We are doing a few things to help get through, and I thought I’d share them.
We have let go of a few things.
I decided not to do cards this year. We always do a family photo card, and I know people look forward to getting it. This one was going to be so cute with the addition of our little guy. We just couldn’t do a photo, and I decided not to try to do the card, either. I let go of the guilt. People will understand.
We are changing it up a little.
Our church doesn’t have a Christmas Eve service, and we normally do our own thing at home. This year, we decided to attend our daughter and son-in-law’s church, so we can have more family time together. It just seems right that we should all be together on Christmas Eve this year.
We are finding ways to remember the little one who passed away.
My daughter’s wonderful in-laws host a family Christmas gathering each year the week before Christmas. This year, the family were all invited to participate in the planting of a live evergreen tree in the baby’s honor. Evergreens are a symbol of Christ’s Resurrection, and as it grows, the tree will be a reminder that this little one’s soul lives on and that we will see him again. I also brought out my daughter’s infant stocking, had a friend embroider the baby’s name on it, and gave it to her to hang on her fireplace. According to a tradition I heard of, we will all write notes to put into the stocking for the grieving parents to read. (I cleared this with my daughter first– everyone grieves differently and I wouldn’t want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable.) In future years, the stocking can be a conversation starter for the younger children as we tell them of the brother they will meet one day in Heaven.
Loss seems to hurt the most at holidays. Christmas will never be the same again, it’s true, but I want to love and support my daughter and son-in-law the best I can by remembering and celebrating the short but meaningful life of their little one.