The Christmas season this year was the most difficult I've experienced to date. On November 15th I decided I would get a head start on the things that needed to be done, so that when we got closer to Christmas and grief would possibly get magnified, the bigger things would be done.
I had dreams of having people over to our place every Friday of advent. I had dreams of having meaningful quiet time, reflecting on the most spectacular gift we have the opportunity to receive. I had dreams of delivering baked platters to the neighbours. We didn't have people over once. It was just too much for me this year. My quiet time didn't happen. Any reflections on advent were done with Olivia before she went to bed...at an age 4 level. Only Jason's co-workers and employees got platters this year. My Christmas gumption was missing this year. Part of it was grief. Part of it was illness after illness all season.
So, when the week before Christmas came, I was dreading the three days of Christmas. My expectations up until this point were not met. I was left feeling disappointed and the guilt of what I felt was obligations we needed to meet was eating at me. When people asked me whether I was looking forward to Christmas, I would answer 'yes'. In my mind I knew the 'yes' was because the sooner it was here, the sooner it would be over.
In all that we did, the emptiness of missing Mikail was always there in the corner of my mind. His presence in my heart was constant. Always there. Forever frozen in time, yet it wasn't an angry 'missing' as it was last year. This year it was an ache and a longing.
When Christmas Eve arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the peace and the joy I felt. Our home felt cozy and the roller coaster of emotions had not been unbearable. The three of us seemed to ride the emotions in sync. We had our traditional meal, just the three of us, and surprisingly we felt the emptiness of the dining room table, missing our tradition of having people over who didn't have any family nearby to celebrate. Our Grande Prairie 'family' was sorely missed. Those were such fun, relaxing, and enjoyable Christmases.
Christmas morning we woke up and the laughter and joy was real. Olivia's excitement over the only thing she asked for was enough to take any sadness away.
Our morning was leisurely and we just enjoyed being together. There was no rushing and I think that was the key.
Spending the afternoon and evening with family was balm to our wounds as well as we celebrated with games, great food, presents, laughter, and a few tears as we remembered Mikail, watching the last Christmas Concert performance he was in 2 years ago. Jason's colleagues son was in Mikail's class and his son happened to sit beside Mikail in the concert. A few days before Christmas he emailed us the video of the concert 2 years ago. What an amazing gift to share with family as we remembered him together for a few moments.
To end Christmas day with family, singing praises to our God, for sending Jesus to earth as a humble, innocent baby, was a perfect ending to a special day. Olivia joined in the 'worship band' and felt so important strumming along on her ukulele.
We drove home with tears in our eyes. Not tears of sadness, but tears of gratefulness for a Christmas filled with true joy when we thought that joy and peace would not be attainable for us for a long long time. This was the greatest gift we could have received and it was only made possible because of that little baby in that manger that, with His birth, brought peace, joy, love, and hope for us all.