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My Dear Love,

This is my first Christmas without you. And who would’ve imagined that the most wonderful time of the year would require the most strength? But the firsts are always hardest, or so I’ve been told. Something about time healing all wounds rings a bell, although my heart can’t fathom the seconds or the thirds feeling less empty in your absence.

I hung your stocking this year and it looks beautiful, as always. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to or not. There seems to be no set of rules for this type of thing. And as I took it down and re-hung it several times, I decided that the hole where you once were would hurt more than the sight of your Christmas sock on our banister.

I also hung all your bulbs on the tree. The ones hand-crafted by chubby little fingers, as well as the fancy purchased ones that seem to have multiplied over time. And I know it sounds foolish, yet I can’t help but kiss a particular ornament goodnight as I unplug the tree every evening.

In each cup of cocoa, child’s laugh, or reminder of a snow angel, my thoughts drift to you. Christmas tags bearing your name still mar last year’s gift bags stuffed away in my holiday bin – letters from Santa addressed to you still sit in the Christmas bag that hung on your doorknob. Reindeer antler headbands and sleigh bells tucked away are all bittersweet reminders of the joy we once shared together.

As I sleeplessly kept my pillow company last night, my thoughts kept returning to Mother Mary. She was also given a son, one that was not hers to keep. He was the very first Christmas present and I can only imagine the amount of joy he brought to his mother in the short time they shared.

But we know how the story goes. She, too, had to give him back.

How did she survive that first Christmas, the anniversary of his birth? Did she display his childhood drawings or kiss a favored toy goodnight, as well? Did she hold an old garment to her face, trying to breathe in any scent of him that remained in order to soothe the ache in her heart and the emptiness in her arms?

Perhaps the knowledge that he saved the world gave her the comfort she needed to keep going. To move through the firsts and the seconds and the tenths and the twentieths. Just maybe she was able to remind herself that the baby she once held was destined for things greater than herself.

So this Christmas, My Love, while memories of you quite literally deck our halls and flood my mind, I will also remind myself that you didn’t come to save the whole world, but that you did drastically change mine. And you were simply destined for things greater than the life I could provide.

This is my first Christmas without you. And in this holiday season, I will choose to find the Joy, the Love, the Peace, and the Hope that the first Christmas baby promised. I will hold my memories of you so closely that they may slip from my eyes on occasion. But don’t mistake my loss as pure sadness. Because the memories that you have left me are more valuable, more precious than any present under any tree.

 

Loving and missing you always,

Mama

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