8 months seems impossibly long and incredibly short. This holiday season has come on fast and at times it has been overwhelming. It feels like I was just writing about month 7 but the nothing, not even the holiday hustle, stops for grief. As I wrote last week, we’ve had some rough days this holiday season. Acknowledging that struggle has helped tremendously, it almost sets me free. I’ve given myself permission to have some moments over the next few weeks. I think it’s better to be honest about what I’m feeling than try to cover it up with a smile and a Santa hat.
My reaction to my bad days is to kick it into overdrive. Jump into my volunteer projects, clean the kitchen, organize the dogs toys (yeah, that happened), walk at the lake or wonder around target just to pass the time. I tend do be a “do-er”. I don’t really get tired when I’m sad, instead I have pent up energy that I need to release. Trying to channel this energy into healthy habits has been my focus. And overall, I think I’ve done a pretty good job! I know my dog appreciates it :).
The past two weeks have been focused on how I can honor and remember my child this holiday season. Not only achieve that, but how to go about doing it in a way that isn’t entirely depressing? I want to remember her in a way that can bring a smile along with the tears. That does good in the world & community around me when it would be so much easier to be a Scrooge. And to have the courage to remember & honor my Cora knowing that it may make others around me uncomfortable. I know it’s hard to be around a sad person some times but you know whats harder? Slapping a smile on your face to make others comfortable.
There are four things we’ve done to honor/remember Cora this holiday season. And all four will be sticking around each year as our family traditions!
Christmas Card :). For those that know Paul & I…you know we love to make some silly Christmas cards. We have so much fun finding our outfits and making the pictures as ridiculous as possible. This year was no exception to that. We wanted to continue this tradition no matter what our year looked like. But the challenge was to acknowledge Cora in some way. We ended up bringing her Molly bear along to put in the pictures. The bear is in a Christmas box, almost looks like another decoration. I did this for me, for my heart. I needed to acknowledge her in these pictures. But not in a way that is “showy” or forced. Most people may not even notice or get the reference. And that is okay! But it’s a simple way we can include her while still being able to make ourselves smile.
Stocking. As I wrote in my last entry, I was very very upset that I didn’t get her a stocking. I don’t know why because it’s not like I’ve gotten her little brother a stocking but for some reason I thought I had. I was so sad to hang all the stockings and not have one for her. So, I marched myself up to target and picked out a tiny stocking. I got an angel pendant to attach to it and that will forever be hers. I had a sense of peace hanging it between mine & Paul’s stocking. I made a promise to her that she will never be forgotten and a stocking is a small way to ensure that.
Ornament. We try to add a new ornament to our tree each year. Something special to mark an event that year or a place we visited. We have a few Ornaments for Cora but I wanted to get something special. Something that wasn’t an angel or a ornament with her name on it. And then I found them, the Ruby Slippers. And my heart jumped! I was OBSESSED with the Wizard of Oz and the Ruby Slippers as a little girl. I was Dorothy for Halloween and refused to take my ruby slippers off. I would wear them everywhere, including church on Sundays. Then I had a precious thought of Cora showing off her slippers to my grandparents in Heaven so I knew I had to get them. Again, most people won’t know that ornament means anything but I know it.
Adopting an Angel. Our most important tradition we have introduced is to adopt an Angel each year in memory of Cora. I knew I wanted to do this a few months ago but I was afraid it was going to be very difficult. It hasn’t been, instead it’s brought me great joy. We adopted a 4 month old baby girl who “wants” some blocks, a walker, and an activity mat. I am so excited to go shop for these items knowing that a sweet little girl will get to play and learn using them. It is so important to us to instill in our children the importance of generosity. The importance of helping others when we are so fortunate…even in our loss. I will not be able to teach this to my Cora but I will be able to show her that I mean what I say. And that her siblings will learn from a very young age this important lesson.
I hope if you are hurting or missing someone this season, you can find a little bit of joy. I hope I can inspire you to honor and remember those who are not with us in whatever way you see fit! Big or small, it’s about healing your heart and feeling connected to those who are not here.
Cheers to the bright side <3.