I think the best word to describe myself during the month of December 2011 would be numb - oh and exhausted. I expected that facing the holidays without Dad was going to be excruciating. Instead, I found it mind-numbing. Me, the person known to all my friends as a "Christmas freak" or more kindly as the one who loves Christmas more than the average bird, could not find any spark for the holidays and only found a little fuel to pretend that I cared, for the sake of the kids. And this was not because I was sobbing all the time or so so sad....it's because I was numb. That was my first stage of grief and apparently it lasted all of December.
The first week being back at home after Dad passed away was like a dream.....a dream where I obsessively cleaned our house top to bottom, got all the Christmas decorations out, ran errands like a mad woman, and then cleaned some more. Cleaning seemed to help me maintain the numbness and I think that was just necessary for me at the time.
Only 4 days after Dad's funeral, Mom came up to spend a Saturday with the boys and I. It was a strange day for sure although there is no name for that kind of strangeness.....no word, just a void that we knew couldn't be filled although all of felt the need to fill it somehow. Mom helped us decorate for Christmas. I'm so glad she was there for that. She is the best Christmas decorator I know and the reason I love Christmas so much. She made it so magical when we were little kids. I will never forget the magical Christmas's of my childhood and how fortunate we were to have two parents who loved us and each other and loved spending the holidays together and creating that feeling that I can only describe as magical! I hope I have managed to give the boys the magical feeling of Christmas that my mom instilled in me.....
We celebrated an early Christmas with Joanne and Marc on December 7th because we wouldn't be able to make it down to the Cape for Christmas with the family this year....or ever....really....owning a retail store gives very few days off for holidays, especially the busiest ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas. We exchanged gifts with them and the kids were in love with their new blankets that Joanne made for them and I was in love with the amazing rocking chair that they made for us together. It's so comfortable and looks so nice in our living room! After the gifts and dinner and a quick game of Chinese Checkers with Papa, we all headed out to Kyle's winter concert at school. The music was great and overall it was a great day with Joanne and Marc.
Kyle had an awesome time at the Iron Horse on December 10th with his friend, Nico and Nico's dad, Matt as well as Luke. They watched a show performed by Albert Cummings. Nico and Kyle, the budding musicians sitting in the front row were actually asked on stage by Albert Cummings and Nico played guitar and Kyle played drums with him! It was awesome!!! The picture is blurry but this is Kyle playing with Albert Cummings: okay for some reason I cannot download the picture, but I will try again later! On with guitar news. Kyle has been taking private lessons since the beginning of the school year and got a new guitar for Christmas. He is in love with playing the guitar, just like his Dad!
Christmas celebrations in the house began when my Mom can to our house on Thursday, Dec 22 to spend the holiday weekend. This was also the boys last day of school. The excitement in the air from the kids was somewhat infectious, although Mom and I were mostly still numb and dumbfounded by the entire experience that just seemed to be happening to us, rather than requiring our participation. Well, I shouldn't speak for Mom, but that is exactly how I felt.
On Friday, Dec 22 Mom, the boys, and I went for a little trip up to Pittsfield to visit the Berkshire Museum. The boys and I did the same thing on the first day of Christmas vacation last year.....maybe a tradition in the making? It's fun to see the Festival of Trees.....100's of Christmas trees decorated by area businesses. Spectacular actually.
Then it was time for making Christmas cookies....like they say a picture says a thousand words...I'll let these ones speak for themselves...
In the middle of the fun, we did have a minor setback. Mom had a gallbladder attack that involved a visit to the ER in Great Barrington late Friday night into early Saturday morning. With records in hand and strict instructions to avoid any fat in her diet, Lindsey and I brought Mom home from the hospital very early on Christmas Eve morning. Chris arrived later in the morning with Haley and Emily and the excitement levels increased drastically. Christmas Eve was fun and we all tried our best to be happy and not feel the void that was heavy on our hearts, missing Dad. We talked about him and remembered past Christmas's and had many good laughs and some good cries as well. A few more pictures that say much about our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning:
The rest of Christmas vacation was filled with many visits from friends and family. The boys spent a lot of time with their friends, at our house and their friends' homes. On December 28th, we had a mini Mt. Holyoke reunion. Becky and Missy came to visit with their kids. I'm astonished that between the three of us we have 9 children! WOW! We've been busy!
Joanne and Marc came for another visit in December! They spent New Year's Eve with us. It was a lazy end of the year. We were all exhausted, some overwhelmed, and a couple of us sick (that would have been Eric and I). I personally was happy to say "Goodbye 2011" while at the same time felt like I was losing something special. It took me a few days of pondering this to realize that entering 2012 would be new territory. It would be the first entire year of my life without my Dad in it.