December. It comes around once a year. Here we are in the thick of it and I seem to be spending more and more time with the ghost of Christmas past. During Christmases in the mid 2000's I would easily be annoyed by Christmas music, hated parking lots, was often grumpy, never had enough money, never had enough time...and never knew just how good I actually had it. Christmas 2009 I was a different kind of monster. I spent entirely too much money on mismatched decorations that made our house look like a Christmas thrift store. Dan and I had done "black Friday" and were super excited to "give" each other our new ipods, computers, and I am pretty sure that's the year we decided that we needed a Tivo in every room. We would spend the day at Mom's smelling and sipping sweet apple cider, eating more than our fill, and (for me) finally taking time to slow down and realize my many gifts. 6 days later, just 6 days.
Skip to 2012. Nick and I didn't put up a tree because we are both a tad obsessed with things being neat and tidy and we didn't feel like rearranging the house to accommodate decorations and such. We did however decide to buy out Party City on New Years decorations for a celebration of the year and our many gifts (now that I know better than to take a single breath for granted). My friends and family were extremely supportive of us having a "celebration" on a day that is perpetually stained. I've looked at the pictures from that night with such fondness. My mom was stunning (as usual) in her black dress and heals. Chris, dapper in his tux. That would be the last time my mom ever stood in my home.
Last Friday I stepped out of the house and had to stop in my tracks. That smell. I know it every December and it never fails to surprise me even though I know it's coming. The smell of New Years Eve 2009. I can't describe the smell, but I can't ever ignore it either. I cried on the way to daycare, talking to Lawson through my tears. "Mommy's not sad about you my sweet, mommy just has memories that are so hard to revisit sometimes that they don't even seem real." "Memories that feel like they were in another life that your mommy lived eons ago." I guess in many ways, they were in another life.
Last Sunday I stepped foot in the home that my mom and Chris so happily shared for the last time. Walking in that empty house sliced me directly through my heart. I turned right and I heard her, "I'm down here bayba". My ears could actually hear those words but anyone else standing there would only have heard my tears hit the hardwood like nails. As I trudged through her seasonal decorations I had to stop periodically to sob. I then had a full blown one way, out loud conversation with her. "I know it's just stuff, mom, but it's your stuff and you loved it."
The tears didn't stop as I climbed into my car to leave. I sat there momentarily pulling it together with deep breaths and a rear view mirror pep talk. A blue jay, wouldn't you know it? He landed on my hood, he looked right at me! I know no one would believe me so I fumbled for my phone to take a picture, away he flew toward the deck my mom and I shared so many cups of coffee on. I laughed out loud and said, "Dan, stop being so vain, I was crying over my mom." His cheeky smile filled my mind and it was okay again. My mom and I had shared a conversation, and he and I just shared a smile.
It's December 2014. 7 days until Christmas 2014. Nick and I have a daughter! A beautiful, sweet, inspiring, barrel of laughs, joyful, precious, treasured, my mother's namesake, 11 month old daughter!! My amazing husband decorated our house and I get to watch white tree lights sparkle in both of their eyes every evening. I love my little family. I love them so much it actually hurts at times. L.O.V.E. what a tiny little word to encompass such great emotion.
Even though I have allowed the ghost of past Decembers place a tear or two in my eyes, that ghost shall not haunt me.
This December, this year, this life, I am thankful for my angels. The ones here on Earth and the ones cheering me on from their castles on a cloud.