open arms

Happy December, everyone.

That feels so weird to say.

If you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you’ve probably heard me refer to October-January as grief season.  Well, within grief season, the most triggering and kinda crappy time is December.  There’s a lot of reasons why, but let’s just say nearly every awful day of my life has been in December.  And let’s just say the non-awful days are birthdays and anniversaries and a whole host of things that usually leave me feeling tender.  And not in a good way.

Life happens.  And sometimes, holidays and the worst days of your life are one and the same.

For years, December has been my boogeyman with Christmas being the ringleader of breakdowns and fetal position huddles.  I basically braced myself all year and hibernated until it went the Hell away.  I avoided life, if I could.  And just tried to outlast it.

This year is different.  Just like Thanksgiving.  The other day, I decided to embrace December.  I changed my FB profile pic.  I updated my covers to a winter-y photo from my trip to Yellowstone.  I listened to Christmas music, and last night, I decided to get a Christmas tree.  Even though my apartment basically sucks right now with the packing.  I wanted a Christmas tree.  The thought of it made me laugh.  The thought of Rilly stalking it made me worry.  But, nonetheless, it didn’t hurt.  At all.  It was actually kind of comforting.

I found a big box of crafty stuff I bought in the last few years, during the days when I tried to love Christmas again.  I tolerated it, sometimes, but mostly I never made the crafts.  None of it made me smile.  But I was trying.  That counted, right?  I found joy in flowers from the market instead.  Not the sparkly things I used to love.  But baby steps aren’t so bad.  I just tried again the next year, and the year after, till now.

This time, there were no tears.  Just a stupid smile and me grabbing my notebook to sketch out what I could do with glycerin, plastic figurines, and mason jars.  But not this year because: moving.  Still,  I’ve got plans.  Epic plans.  Of course, I say this with a bit of hesitation–because every year is different.  It still counts, though, and I’m pretty sure my apartment will be glorious next year.  I’ve got years to make up for.

I’ve decided a big project for next year will involve  all the people I’ve ever loved who aren’t here anymore.  I came up with this idea last year, during therapy.  For my home.  In general.  But it felt natural to include it in my crazy plans.  My home, for the most part, contains no visible traces of my family.  They’re all locked up in my closet.

Because it hurt.  To see them.  To be reminded of them.  To remember how they died.  And how it broke me.

But during therapy, I started remembering all the things I loved about them.  How, as a child, my home was filled with all the people we loved…even if they were gone.  How these things comforted me.  In avoiding remembering the sad days, I avoided loving them.

So, I decided that I was going to start incorporating things into my home that were them.  My father’s brown flannel.  Sparrows for my mother.  Photos of the places I loved growing up.  Things they loved.  Things that made me smile.  Things that reminded me that I missed them.  Things that would give me strength on hard days.  I also decided to get some tattoos–lots of tattoos, actually–which I will probably start getting next year sometime.

I’ve decided that they deserve a place in my holiday decorations.  There will be the angel topper.  With tinsel on her head a la my childhood.  There will be Mama’s nativity scene.  But also flannel ribbons tied into bows.  Sparrow ornaments.  An angel kitty ornament that looks like beloved Cleo.  And ornaments for my three kitties.  And socks.  Filled with walnuts and citrus–like Mama always did.

I feel emotional writing this right now.  Mostly because, for the first time in such a long time, I wasn’t fighting back grief when I was coming up with all the cool things I could do.  All I felt, really, was so lucky to have had people to love like that.  That little kid who loved all the lights is alive and well inside me.  Bring on the glitter.

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