When Holiday Traditions no longer bring Comfort.

I decided to try and bake some things for Christmas this year. Last night I made a sub-par banana blueberry bread (I think the baking powder was old which shows how often I bake) and tonight I will be trying my hand at an apple pie that I already know will be nowhere close to the one my Mema makes but I am determined to try. Those that know me know I am NOT a baker but as Christmas gets closer I feel like I have to do things differently and create new traditions. My husband and I went out and bought new ornaments for our tree- we handpicked each one… from a little felt Santa to a little plaid reindeer to a felt owl with buggy eyes and even a big bright orange and pink ball ornament. I even decorated the mantel for the first time, ever. We have had to talk a lot about our holiday plans and the talks have never been without a fair share of raw emotion. The holidays are hard, Period. We are struggling with the reality of having the hopes and dreams we had for our little family of three ripped away before we could even take a breath.

Now it is back to being just us, but nothing else is back to the way it was. When faced with going back to the traditions we had before she was born, it becomes even more painful. On the one hand, I want to be around family for a sense of comfort and support yet on the other I do not want to feel like I am pretending everything is okay or that we are “back to normal”. For some reason going to visit family for Christmas, just the two of us, feels like we are trying to go back to who we were before Ryann passed away and emotionally drives a nail right through my heart. We would have been starting new traditions and doing things differently had Ryann lived, and sometimes there is a tugging at my heart saying you are not where you should be. I sit at work thinking “you should be at home right now with your 6 month old daughter, watching her as she learns to sit up all on her own and getting excited about what she will do next”.

I shouldn’t have to google what a baby would be doing at 6 months old, I should know because my daughter should be doing those things right in front of me as I watch and take pictures of her beautiful little face to share with my family. My feelings and emotions are still all over the place ranging from guilt to shame to sadness to fear to hatred and to anger but also sometimes to peace and to love, especially when I accept that I still have my husband by my side and that we both still have family and friends that love and support us through this time. As Christmas gets closer my emotional roller coaster becomes more intense but, like our daughter when she was in the NICU, I have good days and bad days as well as good moments and bad moments and I am doing what I can to hold onto the good. Creating new traditions is helpful on those bad days. We do not have our daughter here with us but her memory lives on through those new traditions and I think of her every time I look at the thoughtfully decorated mantel or the new ornaments on the tree. She is the reason for it all.

Peace, Be Well.




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