Sunday, December 6, 2009
In Which Peter Learns That Christmas Will Never Be The Same
We are decorating this weekend. Dragging down all the boxes. Putting up lights. Placing the JOY sign in the front yard. Listening to carols. Dusting off the Christmas books. Peter is so excited about every new thing. At three, this is really the first year that Peter is participating in our family traditions. It is all new to him. So far, he adores our sleepy drives to look at lights. He favorite movie has been **blush, cringe, sheepish grin** Home Alone (a movie my other four watched for the first time this year!). He asks for Ba Rum Ba Pum Pum song (read: Jars of Clay's Little Drummer Boy). He thinks eating his chocolate off his advent tree each night is cool. His siblings are so thrilled to be showing him the ropes and giving all the explanations. So sweet to see them bringing Peter into it all.
Peter started crying when we brought down the box of Christmas stuffed animals.
"Where is mine? Which one is for me?" His sad little cries broke my heart.
Uncle Bryan was in charge of the Christmas bears or moose or reindeers with the dates on them. Peter doesn't have one. Sweetly, Reilly tied Winnie the Pooh onto his back and said he could have hers. Peter's tears stopped. He is running around the house looking for his stocking. There is one with Peter's name in a box somewhere.
And there is one with Bryan's name at my parent's home.
My parents are not decorated yet. I feel a sense of sadness sweep over me when I think of Bryan's stocking there on their mantle. Our stocking holders are picture frames with each family member with a goofy face. We all made the "Parker Lips". Each one is classic and I love it that we have embraced our off-beat selves. No poised and painted photos for us. No sir.
Even before Bryan died, my mom and dad weren't in the mood for celebrating and decorating last Christmas. They did put a fresh Noble Fir tree up but it remained undecorated until January when we finally took it down. They had meant to put their ornaments on it but that dreadful door bell rang instead.
And our Christmas was changed forever.
I don't even remember if my mom put up our stockings over their fireplace. We did not go there for Christmas morning like we always did. We needed to do something different last year. My brother always slept over at their house and woke up with my parents. Last year, my parents slept under the tree at our home surrounded by their grandchildren. None of us could fathom the idea of waking up without Bryan there. I have NEVER spent a Christmas without my brother before last year.
This year, I am not sure how we are going to do Christmas. It feels like every single thing I do or think or smell or taste or hear reminds me of my brother and I weep. Is that normal after a year? I have no idea what "normal" is anymore. But last year I was blessedly anesthetized and numb. I did not dwell deeply on things, I just moved through each "thing" expected of me. I suspect my parents responded the same way. True confessions: this year seems WAY more painful.
I am learning with Peter that Christmas will never be the same. But I am choosing joy and waiting to enjoy the new pleasures in store. This season is about Jesus after all, not Bryan. I keep reminding myself of that. And I am certain that Bryan would not want us weeping throughout his favorite time of year. So I will honor my brother's memory this year by doing what he did best: enjoying the delights of Christmas. May you and your family delight in this season as well.
Posted by Reilly Fitzpatrick at 2:48 PM