Monday, December 20, 2010


Cutting our 1st Christmas tree, 2007
I used to love Christmas.  It was definitely one of my favorite holidays.  I love buying presents for people and thinking about how they will enjoy them.  I used to love to bake, as well, and a holiday that makes it ok to bake and eat cookies A LOT is a-ok in my book.

I was one of those people that put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving.  I love a tree, and I would get a real one, and I wanted to enjoy it for as long as possible.  I bought a new ornament every year, hopefully commemorating something that I did during the year, to help me remember it, and they were all blown glass, because that’s my favorite.

I’m really struggling this year with how to navigate this season.  In mid-November my family went to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.  I’ve wanted to see the Rockettes live since I saw Annie when I was 5.  But it sent me nose-diving into a spiral of grief and pain that I was not prepared for.  The holidays put it so much more in my face that this is not the life that I dreamed of.  And, I think that I’m noticing it more this year than last year because last year I was still so dazed, and not present, so in some ways this is really like my first Christmas alone.

Sledding with the Anderbergs and Ellie, Christmas 2007
The first Christmas that Sawan and I were married was my best Christmas ever.  It felt like playing house.  Like I was a grown-up for the first time.  We woke up and made coffee and opened our presents together.  About 2 weeks before Christmas, a little blue Tiffany box showed up under my tree.  I had never gotten a Tiffany box before.  I was beside myself.  When I opened it that morning, it held a beautiful butterfly necklace.  I don’t know if you all know about my obsession with butterflies, but they make up most of my jewelry choices, and overwhelm my home décor.  I wore the necklace nearly every day before he died, and seldom go without it since he died, as it reminds me of him and has become even that much more special.

Fall 2008, Arthur was a puppy and I'm wearing my butterfly
I have learned in the last few months that butterflies are a symbol of hope.  I love this.  I think that maybe that’s another reason why I can’t take it off, that his necklace symbolizes to me the hope that someday things will be brighter and better.  That someday there will be joy again.  That someday I’m going to figure this out and really learn to live without him.
Christmas Tree cutting, 2008.  This was our "card photo"

After the Rockettes debacle, (where instead of the five year-old inside me being enthralled, I spent the whole time crying and looking at my watch, wondering how much more torture I could withstand), I thought that I’d spend this whole season wanting to hide like I did last year.  No walking past the decorations aisle at Target, looking the other way when houses had lights up, quickly changing the channel on the radio when a Christmas song came on, having to leave Starbucks the day the red cups immerged.  But it’s actually been better than I anticipated.  Though I have no desire to even see any of my old decorations, my sister/roommate really wanted a tree.  Not wanting to ruin her Christmas, I said it was ok, and I’m actually really glad she did one (she very thoughtfully kept it small and didn't go overboard with other decor).  Maybe it’ll ease me in, so that next year I could actually see the sight of my stocking again without being nauseated.  I didn’t cry the first time they handed me my coffee in a red cup at Starbucks.  I even went down the Christmas aisle at Target to look for a gift for someone.  So things are looking up.  Maybe one day I’ll even enjoy Christmas again.  Here’s to great Christmas presents.  To butterflies and hope.

The decorated 2008 tree.  Arthur thought it was his own personal bed.


  1. I'm so sorry that Christmas has been so painful this year. I wish that I could say or do something to bring it joy for you again. Time will help - big Blake and I got married at Christmas and now, it's still one of my favorite holidays. I cry more, but it means SO MUCH MORE to me now.

  2. Noel, Again, I am taken by your heart felt writing. You are so amazing. A special angel has been by yourside.