Gearing up for a slightly different Christmas


Me ~ “I have an idea. Why don’t we go to Harrison (a nearby lakeside resort) this Christmas, stay in a nice room, and go swimming in the hot pools? We can even have a turkey dinner there!”

This request didn’t go over well with my son.

 Son ~ “WHY? I want to be home with our tree and my presents and bake cookies and stuff. Like we ALWAYS do!”

He’s right. You can’t run away.

The season is upon us and I had decided early on I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with the joy of it all. I wanted to disappear from my blog for a good month and not have to watch in wonder as everyone’s decorations went up. I wanted to pout. And run away until the world was back to same ‘ol once again.

What’s wrong with me you ask? I’m simply missing my mom.

It’s been a strange year since she’s passed in March. Being busy has helped. In fact, I think it’s saved my life.

What’s more profound than busy though is, what my decorating passion has done for me this year. Could this be one of the reasons why everything’s transpired the way it has? Was the blog and the decorating gig a protective measure sent from Heaven to help me cope with what was to come? What a well executed plan I say.

This project is the perfect example. I was creating my crate stairs the day she passed. I couldn’t leave things as is so I kept on going to finish it. The curious paid visits to see how we were coping, and when they saw the paint strewn everywhere, they knew exactly what was going on. I was coping the only way I knew how. By creating.

 One of my most popular projects came through one of my darkest moments ever. Imagine.

And now, I’m decorating for Christmas. Which is more difficult. It’s a season of reflection and enjoyment with those we love. And my true loves are in Heaven this season.

At first I pouted and fussed and threw a bunch of stuff together I didn’t particularly like.  Honestly? I wanted to put it all back in the box, curl up and take a nap instead.

But my son wouldn’t let me. My littlest hero led the way and kept his mom on track. And the more I did, the better I felt. Grandma would have been proud. 🙂

This weekend we picked up a cut tree. My son’s first real life non fake tree ever. He was ECSTATIC. Over a $35 tree. He teaches me what I ought to feel each day.

And then we proceeded to do the rest of the decorating. The upstairs was flipped upside down and nothing was safe from some gadget symbolizing the festive season. Even the rust got prettied up. 🙂

As a result of how I’ve been feeling, this year’s decorating has been moving ahead slowly. But with purpose. Rushing through it just spins me the wrong way this year. Slow but steady while enjoying the moment is the 2010 mantra that is working for me. So my reveals may be later than most you see in blogland. Forgive me. I want to savor and enjoy it and do it right the 2nd time. 🙂

This Christmas I will miss my parents terribly, however I believe I have one of the most powerful gifts to help overcome the more difficult times. The decorating spirit within. And the need to share it so others going through similar situations can feel hope. And figure out how to cope, just like me.

If you are missing a loved one this Christmas, I encourage you to dig deep within and do ‘that thing’ that makes your heart sing. Go ahead and cry and punch a pillow now and then if you need to. BUT… please don’t stay there. Push yourself in a good direction and bring yourself a little happiness. It’s OK to feel happy. In fact, it could save your life.

To those hurting this season, may the true spirit of the season greet you with a warm smile, embrace you with love, and bring acres of wonderful new memories to cherish. Just remember, the others around you need you to be the best you can be. And you want that too.

You can do it if I can. Deal? 🙂

I want to thank those that I Facebooked with while I decorated. It was like you held my hand all the way through it. Thank-you. 🙂 If you aren’t on Facebook yet, please join in. We have some of the best discussions and laughs. 🙂

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas! And thanks for being a part of mine.

Are you hurting this season?

Try the advice above. It’s the best gift you can give yourself.

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78 thoughts on “Gearing up for a slightly different Christmas

  1. Oh my dear sweet friend! Mom would be proud! And kudos to your son! What a sweetie!
    Your decor has got my attention…I haven’t done my tree yet…but now I think I can! Junky style!! I am off to search my studio and see what joy is hidden there!!
    I miss my dad and my mom is 3000 miles away. Sooooooo….I need to buckle down and get busy too!
    Thanks hun for the encouragement! What a blessing you are!
    Hugging you

  2. Oh…this post touched me so. I used to have perfect Christmases…Norman Rockwell Christmases. But the year my Dad died in an accident which was 2002…that all changed. That year…he went out and cut down a huge tree off his land and brought it to town to be the town Christmas tree. We always had a huge tree in the center of town every year. He didn’t even tell us he’d provided the tree till it was up.

    This was not really like him. He’d decorate the outside of his house all up with lights…really because he knew I loved it so. I’m sure he heard someone talk about how they couldn’t find a big tree and he just volunteered that he’d find one and bring it. And that was the last Christmas….we had with him.

    We lost him in a motorcycle accident that August and life was just terrible….we (My Mom, sister and I) didn’t want to do anything we usually did…we just couldn’t. We went out of town….we didn’t have presents. But I did put up a tree that year…like you, decorating is my escape. If I’m feeling bad…I look around and think…what can I make or change?

    My sister married the next year and now my Mom and I spend Christmas at a friend of mine’s house. Her family suddenly shrunk too she lost both her father and brother within a few years…so we kind of combined our broken families.

    Sometimes…I know some of my friends think my decorating frenzies are crazy and why go to all the trouble. I used to feel guilty about putting so much energy into it. But I’ve come to realize…it’s the only thing in my life I have total control over….the only thing that I can put lots of effort into and it comes out how I wish…its all I have left of our perfect holidays. I used to pretty much control the christmas decor in my parents home from like age 8 and up.

    So I totally get it that you are decorating…and you must for your son and for yourself. I have a friend in the neighborhood that says she is too depressed to decorate. I tell her that most years I feel that way…but I also know that if I don’t decorate…I will be far more depressed.

    But then you and I are creative types and the way things look bring us such joy. I am so affected by my surroundings. So yes….decorate to the hilt and know that other’s are really looking forward to seeing what you’ll do. Truly that is why I started my blog so I’d have someone to share my decorating with. No one really gets in it in my everyday life…but you sister….you do.

    I’m sorry you are having a rough one without your Mother….my greatest fear is what I’ll do once mine is gone. But I can tell you….I will still DECORATE!

  3. This post brought tears to my eyes. Its like you read my mind! My father passed in June. We’ve spent every Christmas together for 33 years.

    Like you, I’m having a hard time putting up the Christmas decorations… but, like you, creating is my way of coping.

    Thank you for this 🙂

  4. You are right, traditions though hard to change a little keep us grounded. So glad you got a real tree too! New traditions can be just as wonderful. God bless this season.

  5. Hi Donna, hang in there. I’m sure your Mom is smiling down on you and your son! Everything happens for a reason, almost like funky junk was given to you to cope with these hard times. and you do a FAB job with it!
    And , hello, lucky you getting a tree for $35! there, like, $60 around here!!!
    have a great day, -denise

  6. Bless your heart Donna. In your sorrow you are truly an inspiration in wanting to help others. ~ Your son is a hero for sure, helping his Mom at a difficult time. He wanted to be ‘home’ where Christmas is celebrated with a tree, presents, and baking cookies and stuff. I’ve no doubt at all that your tree and all of your decorations will be wonderful.

    Have a lovely Christmas with your dear son, making new memories and holding memories of those who have passed on in your hearts.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

  7. oh you know from the moment I layed eyes on your steps I knew they were special and fell in love with them, so creative!! and now know why as it was fueled with emotion, through the saddest of times we can find the ability to make the beauty also and you have inspired me, from someone that has lost her mum also keep up the beauty within as its shining through your work and your mum Im sure would be proud x

  8. Donna, I was telling my husband yesterday as we were putting up our tree how hard it was for me 7 years ago that Christmas. I was alone with my 12 year old son and we had just moved into a tiny duplex. I was determined to make it good for him, but inside I was feeling sad. The tree wouldn’t fit into the tree stand and I was trying to saw it to fit with a hand saw and it was not working and I felt like bursting into tears, but my little guy was right there trying to help. And I got through it…fast forward to this happy time in my life. But I remember the real sadness of a time when everyone seems to be so happy, and its just not inside you. So keep the faith and count your blessings, as you have your son and a determined spirit.

  9. This one brought tears to my eyes, for your loss. The holidays are very often sad times for many people, some are loney, overwhelmed or have lost a loved one.
    I lost my son two days before Christmas in 1999…you see he was one of those lonely, depressed people who find the holidays a low time (I didn’t know). It was a huge shock and I really don’t remember how I got through that Christmas. It was months before I came up for air. And there is still an underlying sadness to this holiday. I haven’t done much decorating the last few years (I live alone) but felt the need this year. My grandson (my son’s) was here this weekend and helped me set up the tree. He’s 17 now but I bet deep down he loves that we did this, even though he doesn’t know this sadness.
    I too fought this decorating process but the more I do, the more I think I will do…that’s a good thing!
    I am not sure why I shared this…maybe, it can help someone else. It is very early here and maybe you caught me at a weak moment but I am glad I did…thank you for sharing about your Mom…and that young man of yours is a real KEEPER!

  10. Thank you Donna for this post. This season we are struggling with my Mom’s illness and a prognosis that is heartbreaking. She is still in the ICU and I may be traveling to help my Dad soon…meaning I won’t even be home this Christmas. Everything is on hold this year and it feels so strange. But I am grateful for all the many joyous Christmas’s we have had and for a loving and supportive family. I wish you comfort and peace this season as you remember the wonderful memories of past Christmas’ with your Mom and Dad and make new joyful memories with your son. Take care my friend!

  11. my heart is with you during this time of transition. Mama’s have such special places in our hearts. You know I just lost my mom last month too but there are so many wonderful treasured memories we get to carry ahead with us. What a gift they were to us and still are. We GET to give that gift to our kiddos EVERYDAY! Warm Cozy Winter Hugs to you!

  12. Hi Donna, I am so glad that you shared this with everyone. This time of year is such a special time and some just don’t feel that due to a loss or a certain circumstance that they are in. It is hard to be “cheery” and “bright” sometimes. I am so glad that your son was by your your side and guided you through bit by bit. Sometimes that is what we need. 🙂 My heart reaches out to you and the others who are feeling the same this season and hope that you can find comfort and joy. I think your mom was working a bit through your son, a team effort maybe?! 🙂 Hugs to you!!

  13. Donna,

    I am so sorry to hear you have been having such a hard time but that you are making your way through it. Thank you for your sincere honesty and reaching out to others who may be in similiar circumstances. Your son seems like quite the young man!

    Wishing you a great day,

  14. Thanks for sharing how you are feeling. Seems sometimes life in blogland is all too perfect. I lost my 36 year old brother 3 days before Christmas last year. This year has been rough and last Christmas was especially tough. I put the face on for the sake of my kids but deep down they new I was hurting. Your son will be a perfect diversion during this time. I still have yet to put up a Christmas decoration, maybe today? Wishing you peace during the holiday season, Sue.

  15. What a beautiful and touching post…I am certain of one thing – happy memories sustain us in these hard times and I’m sure you have a suitcase full of those…how lucky to have such a wonderful son!!

  16. Thank you for posting this. My dad died between Christmas and New Years two years ago, so it’s an especially tough time for us too. But you’re right, it’s important to find joy where you can. It’s funny that you posted the timmy xmas cup, I LOVE when the cups come out, I even squeal a bit when I see them.
    You’re showing your son an important lesson, even if he is helping you a little.

  17. I am lucky. My parents and my husbands parents are still with us in every sense. Yes, they are getting older and their health isn’t what it used to be, but thank God they are still here. Every year me and my family head back to Pittsburgh to visit for a week between Christmas and New Year’s, and while we would love to just sit back, stay home and hang out here, we know that it’s so important to spend time with our families. Your post re-affirmed that. We may even stay a little extra time this year. Thanks.

  18. I love and respect you more now than ever! It’s hard to go on with life in the middle of grief and even harder to find something to give to others. You have done both. Thank you for being love in action to your son and to others. This is the best Christmas message I’ve read this season. Thank you!!

  19. Deal! My mom passed away Dec 14 last year. This season has been the most difficult ever. But my kids (and I) have so many good memories of Christmas with her. I just posted about some traditions…
    Sometimes I feel like punching that pillow or even yelling at God about it all. But I’ve found, like you, going on and creating in her honor makes those around me happy too.
    We can do it… thanks for the encouragement Donna.
    Becky C

  20. I think we all reach a time in our adult lives that we need to “tweak” the traditions around the holidays to fit our new circumstances. I miss my Dad so much this time of year, he was such a kid at Christmas. He would snoop around looking for his presents even in his sixties.
    I feel some of my new traditions are going to be including this wonderful supportive and inspirational blogging community.

    Thank you so much for inspiring us, and big hugs to your Son for not letting you run away.


  21. I am sorry to hear about your mom. The first year is always the hardest, my mom passed away 6 years ago. Sometimes you have to fake the cheerfulness and then it is kind of catchy. Good luck for the holidays with your family.

  22. You seem to make me cry at least once a week. It’s so hard to be brave. Leave it to our kids to help us through rough times without them even knowing it. You’re amazing and a great inspiration to so many people.

  23. My mother died very suddenly two days before Christmas five years ago this year. So this will be the sixth Christmas without her, and honestly, this is the first year that Christmas carols and decorations haven’t made me sad and irritated and lonely. I also wanted to just skip the holiday and fly off somewhere warm, even up to last year. But Christmas joy has come again after a long season of sadness. Will be thinking of you on Christmas. Go ahead and have a little cry if that’s what you need on Christmas morning.

  24. Donna thanks from me too for posting your heart today…it just makes me remember to be extra kind and gentle with everyone I see and run into while I am out and about. Everyone has a heartache that becomes huge this time of year! It takes courage to press on, and move on, but we must do it! I have learned also that reaching out to others is the best antidote for these holiday blues…being a blessing to someone else is the best medicine and will get us through!

  25. I am so sorry for you that you lost your dear mother! You are obviously a very good mother yourself, way to go! You are such an inspiring person. Merry Christmas

  26. Hugs for you this holiday season. So important to share with everyone how you are feeling and work through the emotions. I’m sure this strikes a chord with so many that need to hear it. I’m so glad you have a wonderful son to share this holiday season with this year.

  27. I walk in your shoes. My beloved grandmother passed two years ago and the ache inside this time of year is acute. I cried over a botched dessert on Thanksgiving but it wasn’t the failed recipe that upset me, I simply missed my family as it used to be, big holidays with many smiling faces and laughter, huge gatherings. I can tell you that it does get easier, the remembering gets all the sweeter as time passes. Like you, the creative spirit that dwells within me spurs me on and I find myself creating in loving memory of those who have touched my life. This post would make a great “Art Saves” post for CRESCENDoh, Jenny Doh’s blog. I think it would inspire many, you should check out submitting it.

    May your days leading up to the holiday be merry and bright!

  28. Donna, I LOVE you. “acres of wonderful new memories to cherish” – awesomely and beautifully said!

    We do create our own reality. I LOVE that by reading your post I realized that so clearly. WE can be in CHARGE of how the day goes – decisions! No matter what the circumstances bring or are….and even if there are hiccups along the way. The path to joy and peace is still there. If I fall off…I just jump right back on again!!!

    Thank you for always sharing your heart and pouring out drops of it for all of us to take in….should we choose!

    And thank you for going slow. I like to follow you in this creative ride and I’m going slow too. We can keep up together, eh?


  29. Donna, as always you express yourself so beautifully. Those of us that love you (and yes, we do love you), hold you in our thoughts and hearts and prayers. We long for words that comfort what can’t be comforted by words. Just know that you are always lovingly thought of and that we all want love and joy and comfort in your life. You’re an amazing woman, mother, and daughter. I wish I could hug you, so consider yourself hugged.

  30. Thanks for this beautiful post Donna. I lost my own mom 8 years ago this past Nov. and I still miss her every day. I’m happy to say that we have indeed created “acres of wonderful new memories to cherish” over the past 8 years. And part of those memories include knowing my mom’s response to them. May you be held snugly in the arms of Him who fully understands the tenderness of this season for you.

  31. Beautiful post. Heartfelt, honest. I am estranged from both my parents… I wish it weren’t this way but I am better off. Cherish the memories, we don’t all get that opportunity.

  32. #38, that’s a picture from my BIG BULK CAN of Tim Horton’s coffee. I just love their Christmas scenes each year and look forward to them. 🙂

    Thank-you all for your heartfelt replies. Some made me cry. 🙂


  33. Thank you, Donna for your honesty. What you’ve written here is so incredibly difficult to do. And you did so eloquently. Those steps were the reason I came to your site. No kidding. It’s amazing how connected we are all in the world, for real. I needed something to keep me going, and I found those steps. This past year has been a whirlwind for me. Alot of change this year, and alot of it has been painful. You’re so blessed to have that little guy to look after you. I know. I had my little guy too. Some of that painful change has been a direct result of my little guy growing into a big guy. I needed this reminder of my big guy and how much he’s kept me in line, and still does. Thank you for this post.

  34. I’ve been thinking about you after reading this post early this morning. I hope that writing and getting those things out into the open is helping. I know writing as well as decorating and crafting can be so cathartic for me.

    I’m hoping you and Cody make many memories this year together….the kind that stay with you both for years to come. The first year without those we love is the hardest I’ve heard, so continue being kind to yourself and your boy.

    Manna for today. Let tomorrow worry about itself.

  35. Family is definetly number one at Christmas.May they be with us or apart they’ll never leave our heart.Have a fabulous christmas in the knowledge that your mum is with you all the time and nothing can ever change that.Your stairs were a fabulous distraction..xx

  36. I appreciate your willingness to share the meaning, pain, and hope behind your art. I’ve always enjoyed decorating because it felt in my control, while the rest of life, often, felt out of my hands. And, decorating or projects always bring a feeling of completion, and art to days that otherwise feel incomplete or beauty-less… Thanks to you and your mom, and son, for reminding me of true holiday spirit. All my best–Nikki

  37. donna please know that you are sooo loved by all of us bloggers ;). so many of us have lost loved ones and the 1st holidays are the hardest. however i always felt it was my responsiblity to carry on and give the best memories i can to my loved ones. when i bake my german grandmothers gingerbread cookies i know i am continuing a tradition that my kids will remember. they are all grown now but really look forward to the box of homemade cookies i send every year ;).
    so give that young man of yours a hug from all of us and have the bestest holiday ever 😉

  38. I can relate. Both my parents died a few weeks after Christmas. We could see it coming during the Holidays. Those were really difficult times. Now some years later the holidays have returned to ‘normal’ but with that extra glow of so many happy memories flooding back around this time.
    Hang in there and feed your soul, and we will hold your (virtual) hand.

  39. Through all of this I am glad you are finding strength. It can truly be a difficult time of the year for many people. I have yet to put up any decorations because I am just not “into it” this year. Not sure why this year is different, but somehow it is. My 10 year old son died 6 years ago and nothing has been the same since. After reading your post, I think I am going to try to get out some decorations even if their is only a couple weeks left in the holiday.
    Hang in there and hold on to the memories.

  40. Great post, Donna. It’s always the hardest around the holidays. I miss my grandmothers the most when Christmas comes around. It seems like the biggest holes are there. I can’t imagine the sorrow I’d have if my mom wasn’t around. I’m glad you’ve found joy in the season with your son. 🙂

  41. I’m so sorry that you are having a hard time this year, but I think it’s inspriring that you’ve found a way to trudge through it. I lost my Mom in January of 2010 and this will be my first Christmas without her. It sucks to be blunt, and if I were alone I would probably just go to bed for the month, but I do it all for my son (and husband). You have no choice but to be cheerful and festive at Christmas when you have a kid. Hugs.

  42. Thanks, Donna. You’ve helped me understand why I’m putting so much into Christmas decorating this year. Coping. Enjoy your Christmas with your son.

  43. Hi Donna – I know your Mom is looking down over you and is glad that you have decided to decorate…better late than never. 🙂 Once it is all up I know you will feel better, too. I have been anti-decorations this year too, for very different reasons (trying to get my house ready for baby), but my husband said the other day that we must decorate, it just won’t be right. Cheers to you and your son and may your holiday be merry and bright. Try and think of a new Christmas tradition you and your son can do starting this year that will honor your Mom’s memory. Do something you know she loved to do. Keep your head up! HUGS, ~Iris~

  44. I’ve been thinking about the things that U have said. And, I was also thinking that when things have gotten tough for me, I’ve gotten up and found someone else who was worse off than me and did something special for them. I’m sure that in UR area there are seniors that don’t have children or the children live too far away and they would feel blessed to have someone bring them something or just visit them. Maybe there is a senior center that can help out with this. Or, even the senior center has attendees that don’t have children in the area and R alone for the most part. Other things would be if there is a Ronald McDonald house in UR area…..I’m sure that gifts for the children that happen to be staying there would be welcomed. Their parents probably can’t afford much since they R there getting some kind of treatment. Another, would be that if U R in the grocery store and U spot an elder couple, or just a single elder, that U could pay for their groceries or give them a Christmas card with $20. If U R in a restaurant & U spot an elder couple or a couple with a newborn U could buy their breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ve done several of these things & they never knew where it came from but it sure did make me feel good. And, UR mother would be looking down with a great big smile. Merry Christmas.

  45. I just recently started to follow your blog (which I love by the way), and it sounds so cliche but time does heal. I lost my sister in May of 09, and she was my closest friend. We talked, or im’ed for most of each and every day. She was sick, but I never imagined she would really pass away. Last Christmas was the worst, I wanted to do the same thing. We celebrate every year at my mother’s, and I honestly couldn’t do it. I will miss her every day for the rest of my years, but I do promise you that it gets better with time. You don’t miss them any less, but it hurts a little less. I hope you can enjoy the season a little!

  46. I’ve been through this and it’s a difficult thing. All of the “firsts” (first holidays, birthdays, etc.) can be a challenge to get through. It comforted me to carry on some traditions but also to start some new ones for my son. It does get easier but it’s never the same.

  47. Your post really touched me. I’ve been having some hard times and not been in the mood for all things Christmas either. I only put up a fraction of the decorations I usually do. I just didn’t feel like it. You words really made me realize that I can control my own happiness, and that that will project out to others. Writing and sharing one’s thoughts really is a powerful thing! I adore your blog – I too grew up on a farm and see the beauty of everyday rusty things. Seeing the unique creations you put into your home always inspires me. Thank you and happy holidays to you and your son.

  48. You’ve had a lot of changes this year, huh? I know the holidays will be hard for you, and I will keep you in my prayers. It’s good that you have such an ‘involved’ son, and that he can keep boosting your spirits. God bless that kid.

    I have several frineds who have lost their parents this year, and I feel so much sadness over it. One of my friends lost her mother in August, and then her father in October. It’s so, so sad, but she said something similar to what you said on FB, and that is that her parents will be in heaven at the ULTIMATE celebration for Christmas this year, and that makes her look at it in a whole different way. Not everybody has such a personal invitation to a birthday party in honor of Jesus himself. Talk about the best guest of honor ever!! With your faith, I know you understand what I’m saying. Your parents ARE together again, they have new and healthy bodies, and a fabulous room at THE inn every night of the week. I remind myself of that every time I miss my dad during the holiday celebrations. 14 years now, and it never seems to get much easier during Christmas.

    It’s great that you are working through your pain, and producing such wonderful results. You have certainly made many long strides this year.
    I’m cheering you on from the sidelines.

    I hope you have the very best holiday you possibly can.

  49. Donna, I understand every word you wrote. My parents are both gone, Dad in November 2005 and Mom just this past August. I miss them so much, but I try to carry on and keep our traditions going. I have not felt much like decorating, but I did put up our tree yesterday and seeing it makes me feel a little better.

  50. what a beautiful post… you are an inspiration to us all, in more ways than one. keep your chin up and hold on to hope. i love how you said your son teaches you what you ought to feel each day… kids are amazing.

  51. Donna – A beautiful post about the true meaning of the holiday, even in the midst of all our hectic decorating, shopping and meal planning. I’ve heard from more than one of my friends and even family that it’s been difficult this year to feel festive about Christmas and all that it entails. Whatever reasons each of us have for perhaps dragging our feet a bit, and there’s more than a few of us it seems, we need to somehow find a few moments out of each day to really appreciate what and who we really have, or have had, in our lives that make it all worthwhile. Put one foot in front of the other and tackle each new day as best we can. I’m grateful this holiday for my wonderful family, close friends, our jobs, our home, and some new blog friends. And that was inspiration enough to dig into the packed storeroom, drag out those totes and start decorating! Love your blog, you are always such an inspiration. 🙂

  52. This is just the most unreal coincidence. I am sitting here looking through my fav blogs because I am feeling down. My dear aunt, whom I was named after, is in a hospital right now hundreds of miles away dying of cancer. They don’t think she’ll make it to tomorrow. I’ve been crying all day. Your words are wonderful. I have been forcing myself to decorate my house for Christmas all evening. While checking the Caring Bridge site ONE MORE TIME, I thought I need to go to bed, but I just need to check ONE more blog…yours. Thank you, Donna.

  53. Thanks Donna. Needed this tonight.

    My grandfather passed away 13 years ago, but this year I have been missing him fiercely–why I don’t know. Thank you for the advice to drink in those traditions that were so loved and savor that feeling and memory, even if the pain comes with it. For me that will mean many more nights this holiday season of Nat King Cole and old fashioned ribbon candy and all of the things I miss and loved so much about him.

    Thank you ….

  54. Hi Donna, I still have both of my parents. so I can only imagine how you are feeling. Sound like you have raised a pretty great son for him to have his traditional Christmas at home with you. I am glad that he is helping you decorate. I know that you have enjoyed that. I am saying a little prayer for you before I go to bed. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus & continuing the fond memories & traditions that you will pass on to your son

  55. Bless your Heart.
    I completely understand, I will be without my dad for the first Christmas. I lost my mom 10 years ago. Some times you just feel like an orphan. One thing I know Jesus will never leave me.
    I hope you and your son have peace and joy this Christmas season.

  56. On December 20th – only a few 13 short days away I will remember saying goodbye just two years ago to my very best friend – my precious daughter who lost her life suddenly at the age of 17 to leukemia. Just five months after a shocking diagnosis I was by her side and saying goodbye to one of the most precious gifts I was ever given. It all still seems surreal on most days and I miss her more than imaginable.

    A few months ago – and not even quite sure how I ended up here – but I discovered “blogland” and I haven’t looked the other way since. I have never really been a crafter, though I do enjoy decorating my home. This year, however, I have completely lost myself in the world of creating and recreating. I have so many projects going on in my household that I think my husband may have me committed. I have hot glue gun blisters on several of my fingers and wear them proudly like a badge of honor.

    It wasn’t until the past few days that it dawned on me that this is the way I will get through this season. This is the “thing” that I will immerse myself in and get lost when, like you, all I want to do is run away. I have often thought while sitting at the kitchen table late/early in the wee morning hours while everyone else is sleeping all cozy in their beds what my “Emily” must be thinking about me. I wish I had her sitting across the table from me with that smile that illuminated the room the minute she walked in…..I just have to hope and pray that she is there….even though I long to see her.

    God bless you and thank you for your post today. Merry Christmas.

  57. I just recently found your blog, and wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. As I was reading your blog, tears came to my eyes. I also lost someone very special to me recently (September 09′). My son passed away suddenly from an accidental overdose and the first Christmas without him was horrible.The couch was my spot and Christmas was just there. I kept expecting my son to call and tell me about some new electronic gadget that had his attention or a new book that I “must” read. He was always learning about new things and I loved to have conversations with him about them.
    Before he passed I was a huge crafter. Scrapbooking, altered art, home decor and design. I loved them all. After he passed, I could not bring myself to create anything. I sold all of my supplies and have spent the past year in limbo. I have just recently picked up paint and canvas and I have been working on a project, and I have started decorating for Christmas.
    I tell everyone when they ask, “It doesn’t get better, it just gets easier.”
    I hope yours get easier.
    Merry Christmas

  58. Donna:

    Your post really touched me. You are a strong person, and I enjoy how much heart and passion you put into living. I am not experiencing a loss through death this year but through an unwanted divorce. I just haven’t been able to pull myself together enough to put up decorations or go shopping. However, this is a beautiful reminder that we control our own happiness to a large degree and the happiness of our children–Thank you for putting me on the right track! I have small children 5 and 6. They deserve a happy holiday, and so do I! I pledge to go get my tree this weekend!

    May you have peace and strength and joy through out this holiday. Merry Christmas!

  59. It’s a Deal! Sometimes I feel like I am behind a locked door in my mind and can’t find the key to get through that door. Yet with courage chipping away a little at a time and finally I break through with a smile. I miss my sister so much. But I can go on and even if I stumble at times to make it through each day. I have been so sick for the past couple of weeks and today I feel some better. I needed a pick me up and well here I am. Your post has touched me in a way I don’t understand yet accept. Thanks to you I am on my way to having those decorations up as soon as my daughter and grandaughter get here in the morning. I realize the sadness of my sister passing will never go away yet the way I deal with it can make a difference in how I feel day to day. Thank you for that one little word at the end of your post as it is what brought me into the now moment. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season.

  60. I know that I am chiming in on this post a tad bit late but I wanted to reach out and send you a long distance hug. The firsts are always the hardest ~ but you know that already. I say bravo to your boy for pushing you in the right direction ~ keeping traditions alive and carrying on. Love the shot of the Timmies cup ~ it made me smile!

  61. I couldn’t be at more of a loss for words than I am right now. I am so touched that this post has helped so many. Seriously blown away and soooo grateful. I’m wearing the biggest smile through tears right now. Way to GO!


  62. Donna, I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. It does get better with time. The wound heals, but a scar shall always remain. I lost my dad almost seven years ago at age 50, followed by 9 miscarriages. I lost my father and all my children. It nearly killed me. I couldn’t decorate, or create, or any of the things I used to enjoy. It’s taken me this long to get my mojo back. But it does return, as I know it will for you. Warm wishes this holiday season.

  63. Tears are welling up in my eyes. My dad is in hospice. I make the 3 hr. round trip twice a week, sometimes more, to see my folks and help my overwhelmed mom. I see her slipping more and more each day. Your words are comforting. I know I’ll need to read them many more times in the coming months. God Bless.

  64. Donna, sweetheart, you’ve touched me with this extraordinary post and confirmed my feelings that you are an exceptional, wonderful woman. Yes, creating will lift you up and open your heart to healing. Sharing with the rest of us in blogland will lift us, too, and bless you for it. We lost my brother just before Christmas in 92 so this time of year is a minefield for me. Keeping my eyes on the truth of the season and my loving family has kept me on course. Keep your chin up, you are stronger than you know.

    Love you, woman.

  65. Hi Donna,
    I lost my Mom in August after an 18 month illness that was brutal on the entire family. We thought she might be able to enjoy Christmas at my house last year, so I decked the halls majorly in anticipation – only to see her in the hospital on Christmas. This year we are doing it much quieter…a tree…some decorations…nothing big outside…just a simple sweet holiday for my beautiful daughter who lost her Mom (me) for much of the year I cared for my Mom during her illness.

    I am like you and when I am sad or frustrated, turn to my creative side for solace…but not this year…I’m giving it all to my daughter, allowing her to have playdates, trips to the park, etc….so she has a magical time this only get one chance to be five 🙂

  66. I was just poking around your site for inspiration and came upon this post.You truly are a gifted writer as well as a very special person. I lost my mom almost 30 years ago and my Dad about 15 years, time goes so fast and the holidays are still bittersweet. I’ts our children that keep us going, there have been years when I barely decorated at all, just couldn’t get motivated. This year will be different. Thanks for all you do.

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