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Saturday, December 16, 2006

You're not supposed to cry while you're wrapping presents

There I was, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, surrounded by wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and a mountain of presents, and what was I doing? Crying. Go figure.

It started with the book I was wrapping for Maddie. Lighthouse by Robert Munsch. It's the story of a little girl who's lost her Grandpa. The first tears came when I realized how little the book will really mean to Maddie. She doesn't remember her Grandpa. He died when she was only a year old.

And then, because I was crying anyway, I shed a few extra tears for the little girl who was in the basement playing with Julie. Remember T? She lost her mom a few months ago and is now living with her uncle because her dad is out of the picture. She was at our house for a sleepover. I sat there on the floor crying for her, because this will be such a different Christmas for her.

Over breakfast this morning, I asked what she'll be doing for Christmas. "Well," she said, "we normally open our presents in the morning, and then we go to my Grandma's house." And then her voice faded away because I'm sure she was remembering that she doesn't have "normal" any more. This year, there will be a new normal, and who knows what that will look like?

I sat their crying because I feel so helpless to do anything for this little girl. I can't give her her mother back. I can't make Christmas happy. I can't give her a safe and happy place to land. I feel so limited, when all I can do is give her a friendly home to visit now and then. And even as I give her that, as we sit around the breakfast table, I feel a little guilty because we have our whole family around the table.

Christmas isn't just about joy. It's about sadness too. It's about loss and loneliness, and getting used to life without some of the people we love.

20 comments:

Liz said...

I've been finding this holiday season to be very sad this year.

I'm sorry you are sad too. But I'm glad that you have found T and that you can be a part of her life, no matter how small a part.

Anvilcloud said...

It's a poignant time of year, not just cheery.

Thailand Gal said...

I am not big on the whole Christmas thing. What is most valuable is that you give that little girl a safe and happy place to spend some nights. That is what she'll remember.


Peace,

~Chani

Pamela said...

I was thinking the same as thailand gal. She's at your house. Thats a solid piece of what used to be that she can still hang on to.

Karla said...

So true Heather. Christmas seems to bring a whole mixed bag of emotions from all ends of the spectrum.

Linda said...

Heather, you are doing what you can. I am certain that little girl knows she is in a safe home filled with love.

Robyn said...

So true. My heart has been aching for several families who are going to find this Christmas particularly difficult. I'm glad that the little girl has got some good friends in your family.

tlawwife said...

I think that you are exprssing your "Christlikeness" in the compassion for those around you. Bless you and those little girls.

Erin said...

I'm sorry to hear about this little girl and all of her losses that she has experienced as of late. I'm sure that just being around your family though, is a treat for her from time to time. Christmas will be different for our family this year to, as it will be the first one without my Grandpa. I am glad that my grandma will be here with us this year though. Sadness definitely seems to come at Christmas!

BarnGoddess said...

I agree. Christmas isint always about cheery ho-ho happy stuff.

I remember when I was a little girl and cancer snatched my mother away from me. The first Christmas was the worse. My heart aches for T.

You are making a big difference in her life by surrounding her with your friendship and love. Believe me, she will never forget the kindness.

Joyce said...

this really resonates. I've had many tears for the season as well.sadness for so many who have a very different Christmas this year, and frustration over not being able to barely keep up with my own mess of a life, never mind make anything nicer for someone else.

Coll said...

Yes.. Christmas is not always a happy time. But never doubt that it is the little things that make the difference. Your loving household and family will be a warm memory for T.

Vicki said...

Ohh I'm so glad it isn't me.

I cried yesterday because I seen video at church last night of my friend who died last year. Before she died she went through a terrible medical ordeal and had to hvae her hands and feet amputated. She lived 3 years after the amputation. Seeing her last night, in a Christmas Video from when we were high school age, made me weep for her.

I'm going to post about her now... thank you for bringing this out in me.

Whippersnapper said...

Hi Heather, I'm glad I read this, because it helped put things into perspective, and I certainly need perspective right now...M went into my template settings and destroyed everything. It's been four days now, and I can't post anything, access my archives or read any of the comments. To say I'm upset is a bit of an understatement.

But it's only a blog. Right?

Vicki said...

we sent a talking Christmas card to Canada today. =)

Dale said...

Here I am, Heather. Over here with the sad group.

The very nice man said...

Great post! I am one of the blessed people but I am very aware that there is another side as well!

J said...

A port in the storm can mean all the world to someone at such a difficult time. You are sure to be helping her more than you know, and actually, more than she knows at this point.

marnie said...

You are so right. I'm often thinking about people who I have lost, and remembering times of happiness. I'm sure I'll cry over my wrapping too...

Janet said...

What a touching post, Heather. Wow. You've hit it right on the nose with this one.

I tend to get "the blues" REALLY bad around Christmas. The smallest things can set it off. This morning, it was the box of chocolate-covered cheeries sent to us in Oxford by our US office. It was my mother's favorite candy.

I don't know yet whether the sadness or joy will win out this year. I'm HOPING for the joy, as it's John's and my first Christmas as a married couple!!!

Janet