Christmas 2011 is nearly here. The presents are wrapped and stowed away until Santa comes and lays them under the tree on Christmas Eve while the dance of sugar plum fairies commences in the dreams of my daughters. The tree is up, decorated and lit – each ornament has an origin. Some received on the advent of one of the kids first Christmas; others as gifts to each one of my kids found in the stockings that are hung on the mantel.
This year's celebratory preparations were forced more from the need to have a resemblance of normalcy. The trimmings from the tree collected and set aside to bring a piece of Christmas as a grave blanket to Tim and my mother. Miniature decorations selected because of color and sentiment. Even selecting the tree and cutting it down was an effort that had a venom coursing through my blood and a curse with each breath and stroke of the saw as it bit into the trunk of the tree. Still I had to do what was necessary for Tim’s sisters, his mother, and me. The Christmas music playing on the radio doesn’t have the same connection to my soul as is did from Tim’s first Christmas. I think of the last line of Greg Lake’s song “I Believe in Father Christmas.”
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell,
The Christmas you get you deserve
I wonder if this is true. This first Christmas without my son, is it something I or any bereaved parent deserves? I wonder if the Ghost of Christmas Present were to visit me, with his torch and cornucopia of celebration and joy, would he ask me if I truly invited his brothers into my home. I could answer “No, Spirit, I only allowed the previous fifteen brothers into my home – if only for a short visit. I had to work against the children fettered to your robe Ignorance and Want.”
Angel wings of etched and cut glass, along with silhouette of an angel adorn the tree. A star, fashioned with lights at home after finding the perfect shape and contour at a store is set atop. Spider-Man ornaments dangle from various branches – gifts Tim received from his mother and me. We could have not used them, but we did because it truly would not have been a Christmas tree without his presence.
I complained I wasn’t feeling anything from the trees we looked at in the tree farm. We planned to visit one and move on to others we found in a directory of tree farms in search of a tree. However the girls found two matching Christmas sleighs for decorations. If it was by chance, guidance, or luck, we didn’t find a tree that satisfied what we wanted and we left. With a list programmed into the GPS, we continued our quest and more or less stumbled on a tree farm we didn’t have in our list.
It was late afternoon, while walking through the tree farm, I said aloud, “I miss you! I wish you were here to help find a tree.” I thought of how Tim would quote movie lines from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Unknown to me at the time, Gi was saying similar. There was no choir of angels or divine light beaming down when we found the tree among the hundreds – only a amber and crimson sky as the sun began to descend, the cry of Canadian geese as a flock flew in a V formation overhead. Despite the calendar and encroaching chill, it doesn’t seem like Christmas.
The only thing I am sure of is the reality that my son is not asleep in his room, and my love for him. The one thing I know this holiday season is that each and every time I stepped into a store to get the girls their gifts, I couldn’t help but pick up an item and think Tim, if you were here you would love getting this. If you were here we would be having Nerf sword fights in the aisle – acting more like Inspector Clouseau and Kato than Christmas shoppers.
As I begun typing, Faith Hill was singing “Where Are You Christmas?” and I was thinking exactly that as I listened. However, I do remember...
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