It is the perfect winter day. The kind you see in those warm, fuzzy Christmas movies. Big, fat snowflakes are flitting down outside my window. The logs in the fire are popping and sizzling and the firelight is sending off a beautiful orange glow in the room. I have hot cider in my favorite mug and old fashioned Christmas songs running through my head. And you are here too. In the forefront of my thoughts.
This is our first Christmas without you. I don't quite know what to expect. Without you here there seems to be such a big part of Christmas missing. It just isn't the same. I miss your "oohs" and "aahs" at each and every decoration. I miss hearing you sing along to all of the beautiful songs. I miss the Christmas sweaters you wore. I miss your joy and elation at all things Christmas. I miss your enthusiasm, your elation, your wonder, your joy. Without you here Christmas feels a bit flat. Lifeless.
Mom could not bring herself to put up any decorations this year. I guess when you spend over 50 years celebrating Christmas with someone it seems impossible to enjoy it when they are gone. I imagine each decoration reminds mom of how much you shared together and how much she misses you. And I can certainly understand that, but it makes me even sadder. It makes you feel that much farther away. I need those reminders of you. I need to remember those wonderful Christmas memories and hold on to them when I am missing you most.
I have been wearing a couple of your sweaters lately. They seem to be all I want to wear. They are comforting to me. And since mom isn't using the decorations I asked if I could have Alfie this Christmas. After all, he was your favorite. I thought maybe if I have Alfie in our house it will be like having a piece of you here with me too. I have such fond memories of you bringing Alfie out and setting him on top of the window box every year right before Christmas. I always thought it was so funny that you liked that little elf so much, but I think he always brought out the kid in you just as Christmas seems to do for so many of us.
This Christmas is such a mix for me. I am so excited for the boys. Their energy is palpable this year as they count down the days. And then of course, this is Grace's first Christmas. Last year she was just a dream, and now here she is celebrating with us. I have everything I've always wanted. But, even still, I can feel that hole. That missing. How I wish you were here with us too, daddy.
Maybe, just maybe, I'll feel you with us. I've been waiting so long to see you. Or hear you. Or feel you around. Maybe I'll find comfort in your sweaters. Or joy from your favorite, Alfie. Or maybe I'll feel you with us as we watch our boys enjoying all the magic of Christmas. Perhaps I'll feel you in the music at Christmas mass. Or maybe I'll finally see you in my dreams. I have hope.
I know heaven must be the ultimate place to celebrate Christmas, but I hope you'll visit us too. I hope when I look at the twinkling lights on the tree you'll be looking at them with me. This, our first Christmas in our new home. Our first Christmas as a family of six. And our first Christmas without you.