As we approach the holiday seasons – at least, for some religions and some countries – I keep asking myself what I want this first babyloss Christmas to look like.
Should we include Anderson on our Christmas card? If so, just his name, or a picture?
Should we go with the religious cards (which our relatives will expect) or the more vague “Happy Holidays/Season’s Greetings” – since we’re both still struggling with our faith post-loss?
Should we ask that he be remembered on Christmas Day? We have a stocking for him hanging above our fireplace at home (it was his last year, too, when he was 22 weeks in gestation) – but we won’t be home for Christmas. Should we bring it?
Should we do something special on Christmas? Or save it until his birthday on January 5th, or death day on January 31st? Since K has to be in DC for work on January 5th, should I go with her so we can celebrate together? Or is the 4th a “good enough” time to celebrate, knowing that if he were alive the one day wouldn’t matter?
All these Shoulds. The one unifying factor? They all imply that there IS a “should,” which in turn implies there is some one way these situations are to be handled for maximum meeting-of-others’-expectations. Why do I care so much what others think? Why can’t I turn it off?
This first Anderson-less holiday is about him. It’s about me, and about K. It’s not about making sure the people who receive our Christmas cards feel comfortable and safe in their grief of our son. It’s about making sure that WE do. The choices we make are for us and our family, because he is our son and it is our job to honor him and remember him in the way that is best for us, not for others.
I’m going to try, this Christmas, to do what I need to for my own grief and try not to think so much about how others might be judging me in my grief. It is hard to strike that balance between “she moved on too quickly” and “she’s moving on too slowly” in the minds of others, and since that balance is different for every person, why am I even trying? My son has been dead less than a year. He was wanted so very badly and loved so very much.
For more insight on this topic, see Lori Ennis’s post on Christmas past (which also links to a prior article on how she remembers her three boys at Christmas. And remember – this Christmas was always going to be different – we would have had a nearly one-year-old build new memories with. So I’m going to make your new traditions to remember Anderson, who will be very much present in our hearts and minds this Advent, as we await the birth of someone else’s baby boy in a little town is modern-day Israel.