26 October 2015

'tis the season

For years, I considered my mother's birthday to be the kick~off for my holiday season.  Her birthday was October 25th.  She died last December and as this October progressed from start to middle to now, I wondered if I would still consider this the start to my holidays.  The answer is:  probably not always; but for right now, yeah.  Perhaps not even next year, but for this year, yes.

This year has been a year of firsts, in many ways.  When a loved one dies, it's their absence that is the most noticeable, especially within that first year of death; at least that is how I felt much of this year.  I'm still saying good bye, still grieving, still adjusting to traditions that now don't include mom's physical presence.

In my family, we'd often call the birthday person and sing "happy birthday" to them over the phone.  Sometimes we'd do that on a recording, if they were out.  Sometimes we'd get the other folks who might be visiting us to join in.  One year, I kept the recording of my mom, dad, and brother singing happy birthday to me over my voice~mail for the entire year; because listening to them sing to me made me smile and feel loved.  It felt strange not to be picking out a birthday card or to be calling mom today.  I'll miss going to Red Lobster to treat each other, once for her birthday in October and once for my birthday in November.  We didn't go last year, either; because we wanted to wait til she was feeling better.

Even tho I knew that today might be tricky, difficult, that I might laugh over memories and then start crying because they were memories; it was a better day than I'd hoped.  Several folks really made that possible for me.  Thank you, I appreciate you so very much.  Also, I knew mom would have wanted me to not dwell on things; tho I knew she'd definitely understand my tears too.

Mom never really made a big deal over her birthday, it's a day, just a day, she'd say.  But I could count on a telephone call at about 4:55pm my time, on November 16th, from mom; because that's when I was born.  So even tho mom didn't consider October 25th to be all that important, I did.  As I said earlier, to me, mom's birthday marked the beginning of the holidays.

Why?  Well, there's mom's birthday, then Halloween {which in my hometown meant a big parade, costumes, candy, bands {including bagpipes}, trick or treating, bean soup, and hot chocolate...for the past six years, it's been my wedding anniversary, which means that it's the most special day of the year for me}, then a few weeks later is my birthday, and then a week or so later is Thanksgiving {which in my family was THE holiday,  bigger and more meaningful to my family than even christmas}.

That's the first half of the holiday season to me.  Last year, during that time, my mother's heart was faltering and her health was failing.  She was dying, tho we didn't realize that for sure at that time.

She died December fifth.

So last year, during the second half of the holiday season, which includes my father's birthday on December 15th, christmas/yule, and welcoming the new year; I was just so hugely relieved that mom was no longer dying.  I was so glad that she didn't linger for an incredibly long period of time, struggling to breathe, being miserable while prolonging her existence.  I was relieved that she was done dying.  One of her favorite characters in one of her favorite movies, Sipsy in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, said, "a true lady always knows when it is time to go."

This holiday season most likely will be a lil more teary and tense for me, in some ways.  Because I miss her.  I miss her lots.  I feel her absence in so many ways, so deeply.

Calavera, a sugar skull often seen
during the celebrations of
El Dia de los Muetos
In other ways, I think I will enjoy this holiday season 
in ways that I haven't in several years past.  There will be less stress overall this year, because I made time and cleared my schedule of commitments and obligations earlier this autumn.  I have the ability to sit with my grief if I need to, without feeling guilty because I "should" be doing this, that, or the other thing.  I also have awareness, so I can monitor myself to make sure that I'm in an ok space/place overall.

My husband is so supportive, usually; but even moreso now.  He's able to be here with me, with a bit less stress himself {he retired in the spring from his second career}.  He misses my mom too, having loved her and her ways, even when she told him, "ya watch weird shit, Jerry, ya watch weird shit."

This year, there is a new grandbaby whose mom, sister, and nan/aunt decorated pumpkins over this weekend.  I see this baby often and get to sing, "I'm gonna get the baby, I'm gonna get the baby" in a joyous, yet bragging, way to my husband {even tho when I get the baby, he does too, silly me}.  She'll be spending her first thanksgiving with us, bringing her mom too {wink}.  This tiny creature just blows me away and makes me think of all sorts of things; some deeper ponderings {like at what point do we stop being so pleased with just being and start to have criteria that must be met in order to be happy} and some not so deep~~like what color will her hair be?

We have plans to see the majority of the family at some point over the next few months.  But also plans to relax with each other, as Jerry watches football and I finish a few knitted projects.  These holidays, we have plans, but we also have enough flexibility to adjust and take things as they come.

After all, 'tis the season; no rush, we've got time to enjoy the days ahead.

1 comment:

  1. I know this year has been tough, and you know that I'm always here for your. That said, I'm gonna pull chauvanistic oinker move and as head of our household declare that October 25th will officially kick off our household holiday season. As part of the official rites of celebration we will go dine at Red Lobster and lift a glass and toast "YerMa Day"!!


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