Happy Holidays!

Christmas has always been hard since 1984. Now that I have two beautiful girls I want to enjoy as time goes too fast.
If you are on Twitter and need an ear, I will be checking in. @motherlessmom
In the meantime, I am enjoying the gift of my family.
See you in 2013.
Xoxo
Danielle

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From the Archives: Motherless Mom’s Christmas

When I think they believe that I am asleep, I get out of my bed carefully. I tip toe to my door and open it a crack. I sit by the floor ready to jump into bed if I hear them come down the hall. I can hear my mom and dad watching tv and sipping their drinks at the other end of the house. I barely allow myself to breathe. I hope they go to bed soon so Santa can come. I am wide awake in anticipation to see Santa. After about an hour, my parents shut off the tv.

Finally, I think they need to go to bed. Only they don’t. I hear lights being turned on and furniture being moved. I go down on my belly trying to peer down the hall into the living room to see what is going on. Then I hear my mother. “I am tired. We should get the stuff out. Do you want the cookie?” she asks my dad. His reply is muffled by the sound of paper rustling and a box being ripped open. I can’t take it anymore so I open my door and creep down the hallway to get a better look. My heart stops when I see the Barbie Dream House being built by my dad. Packing materials strewn everywhere.

I almost speak up when I hear my sister moving in her room which is next to where I am standing. I race back into my bed and pull the covers over my head. I wonder if Santa didn’t have time to deliver a put together house so he left it for my dad. Before I could think of anymore sad thoughts, I fall asleep.

“Mommy.” Before I crack an eye open I am smothered in kisses by my three-year-old daughter. She bounces over to her daddy who is pretending to still be sleeping. “It’s Christmas. Santa came. Let’s go!” she demanded. “Keep it down. You will wake your sister.” I requested too late. All the family is up now. We go down the stairs together to the living room.

I smile at the dream I had about that last Christmas I spent with my mom. I never did tell her I found out Santa was not real. The look on my children’s faces makes me wonder if there is still Santa magic. It has been 26 years since my mom died and I still miss her, including the holidays. I still remember her sitting in the black vinyl chair, cane at her side, smiling at us enjoying the Christmas presents. Each day is hard and easy all at once.

Once I gave myself permission to embrace the grief that my children do not have their grandma, I felt lighter. By letting go I began to tell my daughters stories of when I was a kid. Showing them pictures reminds me of the happy times. I do things that remind me of her, like watching her favorite Christmas movie and enjoy her special coffee. She will always be a part of my heart and soul.

My youngest toddles over to me with her new Elmo toy. She gives it a big hug and joins her sister back on the floor. I take a deep sip of my coffee with Baileys just like mom. I feel warmth of the day and the knowledge that my daughters know their grandma. I take great peace in that.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. May you make new traditions while appreciating the past ones.

A Letter to Shoppers this Season

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December 2012

Dear Christmas Shoppers,

RE: Being Kind while Shopping this Season

First, I want to wish you a Happy Holiday season.

Secondly, this is a very busy shopping season. Retailers do appreciate you coming in to buy gifts. For some companies it is when they start to turn a profit from a tight year. When the business’s purchased their winter stock back in the spring, they try to anticipate what is the ‘it’ item for the Holiday season. When you yell at the cashier for the empty shelf on Christmas Eve, remember it is not the clerk’s fault.

Thirdly, on that note, turn that frown upside down. Yes, the lines are long. Yes, the clerk may have been working for 10 hours without a break.

Fourthly, I dare you to do one kind thing each shopping trip. Hold a door open for someone or let a frazzled mom go ahead of you. It does not take much to pay it forward, or cost a thing.

Finally, it is ‘tis the season to be jolly.’ There is power in taking a breath and being grateful for what you have. You may find your smile is contagious. It can also make a tired cashier’s day.

Love,

Me

15 year Christmas Retail Veteran

A Motherless Mom’s Holiday

me and my mom

                                                                    When I think they believe that I am asleep, I get out of my
bed carefully. I tip toe to my door and open it a crack. I sit by
the floor ready to jump into bed if I hear them come down the hall.
I can hear my mom and dad watching tv and sipping their drinks at
the other end of the house. I barely allow myself to breathe. I
hope they go to bed soon so Santa can come. I am wide awake in
anticipation to see Santa.

After about an hour, my parents shut off
the tv. Finally, I think they need to go to bed. Only they don’t. I
hear lights being turned on and furniture being moved. I go down on
my belly trying to peer down the hall into the living room to see
what is going on. Then I hear my mother. “I am tired. We should get
the stuff out. Do you want the cookie?” she asks my dad. His reply
is muffled by the sound of paper rustling and a box being ripped
open. I can’t take it anymore so I open my door and creep down the
hallway to get a better look.

My heart stops when I see the Barbie
Dream House being built by my dad. Packing materials strewn
everywhere. I almost speak up when I hear my sister moving in her
room which is next to where I am standing. I race back into my bed
and pull the covers over my head. I wonder if Santa didn’t have
time to deliver a put together house so he left it for my dad.
Before I could think of anymore sad thoughts, I fall asleep.

“ Mommy.” Before I crack an eye open I am smothered in kisses by my
three-year-old daughter. She bounces over to her daddy who is
pretending to still be sleeping. “It’s Christmas. Santa came. Let’s
go!” she demanded. “Keep it down. You will wake your sister.” I
requested too late. All the family is up now. We go down the stairs
together to the living room. I smile at the dream I had about that
last Christmas I spent with my mom. I never did tell her I found
out Santa was not real.

The look on my children’s faces makes me
wonder if there is still Santa magic. It has been 26 years since my
mom died and I still miss her, including the holidays. I still
remember her sitting in the black vinyl chair, cane at her side,
smiling at us enjoying the Christmas presents. Each day is hard and
easy all at once. Once I gave myself permission to embrace the
grief that my children do not have their grandma, I felt lighter.
By letting go I began to tell my daughters stories of when I was a
kid. Showing them pictures reminds me of the happy times. I do
things that remind me of her, like watching her favorite Christmas
movie and enjoy her special coffee. She will always be a part of my
heart and soul.

My youngest toddles over to me with her new Elmo
toy. She gives it a big hug and joins her sister back on the floor.
I take a deep sip of my coffee with Baileys just like mom. I feel
warmth of the day and the knowledge that my daughters know their
grandma. I take great peace in that. Happy Holidays to you and your
loved ones. May you make new traditions while appreciating the past
ones.

A Motherless Mom’s Christmas

I am sitting still on the phone listening to my friend complain about going from her mother-in-law’s house to her own mother’s for Christmas dinner. I inwardly shake my head. I love my friend, and at the same time I want to yell at her on how lucky she and her kids are to have family fighting over where to go for Christmas.

It has been 26 years since I shared my last Christmas with my mom. I can still hear the wrapping paper crinkle, ice in her rum and coke tinkle and the squeal from my younger sister over what Santa brought. I can still feel the warmth of her hugs. It was the last year of my childhood. I was ten years old.

The years that followed without her, I could not get into the Christmas spirit. It was not the same. The void always darkened the room despite other family members trying to make it a good day for us. I still missed her and didn’t understand why she was gone. The grief engulfed me when I became a mom. My girls did not have their grandmother.

Then something changed for the better. I began to talk about my mother to my young daughters by showing them pictures of my childhood and sharing memories. I relived the singing carols, watching her favorite holiday movies and the fun she made just being with her. By opening my heart’s door it made her the grandma she is which made me feel better and lighter. I had buried many of the happy parts of my childhood until now. Though I know she will never be back, I can not ignore the fact in talking about how amazing she was, and still is, in my heart.

After many discussions with my husband, we decided to have a quiet house over the festive holidays. We had nowhere else to go as other family had passed away or moved out of town. After gifts were opened and played with, we stayed in our pjs for as long as possible. Games are a plentiful and movies are replayed over and over. Big Christmas dinners are replaced with snacking all day long on favorite foods. The car remains in the garage all day long.

When we let go of the sorrow and what we can’t control, we build our children’s memories of this time. We enjoy the magic of the season with each other.

As my friend wraps up the call, I take a sip of my wine. I smile as I say good-bye. I am relieved that what I thought I wanted for my daughters is not the reality of traditions that we have built. The legacy that we give them any day of the year is unconditional love. We need to stop the coulda, shoulda and woulda in our lives. Our life is what it is. Our family may be small. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.