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Wednesday
Dec062006

Stockings

I grew up loving the Christmas season but not really understanding it. We weren't particularly religious folk; for us, the Christmas pageant was just an opportunity to visit with our friends and snitch as many cookies from the cookie plate as possible. Baby Jesus was just some kid who didn't know who his daddy was...like some of my cousins.

Regardless to this ignorance, my mom did up Christmas the way Martha Stewart can fold a linen napkin. With flare. Every year was a competition with to see if she could out do the year before. Could she toss more tinsel on an already over-burdened tree? Could she squeeze in another Santa figurine on the coffee table? (Oh look, there is approximately two square inches of space that haven't been decorated.)

For the entire month of December, no matter what our family faults may be, I was always proud to be a part of this family. Because we always had the best decorated house in town. Inside and out.

Thankfully my mom just didn't decorate. She baked. Not only did we have the prettiest tree, but an ample amount of freshly baked goodies to consume while we lay in the dark and watch the twinkle of our tannenbaum.

Once I grew up and had kids of my own, it was a mad rush to replicate the memories of my Christmas yore. Boo didn't understand my desire to deck the halls; in his household they had a pathetic little Charlie Brown tree with six ornaments on it and one string of lights, most of which were burnt out. They didn't even have stockings. Unfreakingbelievable!

(My darling hubs would like to point out that Christmas for them was more than just tinsel and lights. It had religious and family meaning beyond how big the Christmas tree was, or if there was a talking Santa figurine.)

Whatever. My house rocked. His didn't.

Eventually, I caught up with my mom. My house is a magical place at Christmas time. I tossed the tinsel in favor of garland, traded in the Santas for some beautiful nativity scenes, but I know how to deck these halls. And my kids love it. And the best part of all was watching the Bug's face light up when the Christmas tree was turned on. He didn't understand the fuss, or the muss. But he knew something was up. And every decoration I had was an opportunity for therapy for him. Touching the tree, feeling the prickles. Holding the smooth, cold glass balls in his small chubby little hands. Tasting the peppermint across his wet lips, from the candy cane I would swipe across his tongue.

All of it was so new and fresh for him, every year. And he loved it. While Fric and Frac pranced with excitement, barely able to contain their giddy glee at the thought of ripping into the presents, Shalebug thoughtfully stared at the twinkling lights, mesmerized by some vision only he could see.

So it became a pleasure to decorate every year. To see if I could outdo myself and my mother. I was building the excitement for Fric and Frac and I was providing an opportunity for Bug to reach out and talk with his angels. Every tupperware box Boo dragged in, bitching and moaning, was full of anticipation and excitement; filled with hope and promise.

It's not the same this year. Not for me, not for Fric and Frac. Sure, they are greedy little kids, anxiously awaiting the arrival of promised goodies for a year of half-assed good behavior. But the twinkle of the tree has lost it's sparkle. The water globes are no longer tiny little worlds of mystery, but just glass balls that no longer get drenched with drooly little fingers. The candy canes are now just candy to be forgotten on the tree, collecting dust. How does a person recapture the spirit of Christmas when the family angel is now on top of the tree, instead of in our arms?

How does a mother put on a happy face, decorate her home, bake her cookies, wrap her gifts, knowing that one of her children won't ever again stare at the glittery glow of her pretty tree?

So I carry on. I push through the throng of crazy Christmas shoppers, ignore the carols being sung on every corner and pretend nothing is wrong.

I bake, and I decorate. I tell silly jokes and I encourage the kids to dream of sugar plums and dancing fairies.

And I will watch the anticipation of the season build it's momentum in their tiny hearts, until they are busting at the seams with excitement on Christmas morning.

I will watch them tear into the paper-wrapped packages, and discard the bows I have lovingly placed on all the presents. I will watch their faces for signs of disappointment or glee when they discover what's inside their parcels.

I will play Christmas music and read the story of the birth of Christ, and try to carry on.

All the while ignoring the empty stocking that remains, mocking me, reminding me of what I lost. And what heaven gained.
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Reader Comments (32)

That was beautifully written. My heart goes out to you.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChelle

Oh T, my heart goes out to you and your family. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I love you dearly!

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterroxylynn

Oh my, God bless your heart.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterShana

Is there some sort of requirement at RNM that you have to reduce your readers to tears once a month? No? Because you could be in the Guiness Book with this. Seriously, my heart is breaking over here.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterstefanierj

Ben sends a big ol' slobbery drooling wet kiss to ya', t. And you are so right about the resemblance between the Bug and Ben!

I'll chill some wine and we can commiserate by e-mail again tonight.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBen & Bennie

Oh, how I wish I could comfort you.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEarth Girl

the love you express for this lost child is inspirational! he was truely fortunate to have that passion. fric and frac must be overwhelmed by the extra attention to detail you have for them now!!?
by the way just new here to this blog stuff -- passed on by a friend. looked at history and i'm a three percenter. men are horn dogs and your boo knows it. we only obey the rules we are made to follow if we know what is good for us.

your son was obviously well loved - i hope that you give yourself cedit for the way he was loved, cared for, supported, encouraged, involwed, appreciated, included, comforted, and maybe most of all MOTHERED. you words, all, indicate these wonderful things in a way my limited voice cannot expess completely!! i am quite sure the last thing you feel like doing at this time is taking a bow but i am giving you a standing ovation.
as a father myself, i have only a small idea what a mother feels. my only hope as bystander is that fric and frac are not left to fend for themselves-- they are minus a brother and must miss him dearly.
just wish i could wrap all those red necks in velvet bubble wrap and keep y'all protected from anymore grief. God bless you and yours this holiday season. bet that little man runs around up there now tellin everyone who'll listen "what a great mommy that red neck is" and "look at our house -- she's doin up right, again"
thanks for this window to look through.you sure provide a study in human intrest.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterold psyc dog

Usually when I read your posts I sit here and laugh at what a dorkball you are. But today I find this lump in my throat and I'm pretty much at a loss for words.

It's hard to "celebrate" the season when you're missing one. I still can't go to the cemetary. I refuse to look at the empty stocking hanging at my parents and my sisters house. Sometimes life is just not fair. But we get up every day and we put a smile on our faces and we tell everyone we're fine because we have to. If I'm being honest-I can only tell you the only way I can get through these times is I try not to think about "it". Because if I do I just sorta stop.

Do y'all talk about how much he loved Christmas together? I'm sure each of you remember something different and special.

But can you imagine T...what your little guy sees now? I imagine it's Christmas everyday. Lights and tinsel/garland galore.

Big hugs my friend.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkimmyk

Aw, sweetie. That post reached out and grabbed my heart.

{{{HUGS}}}

That probably doesn't do a darn thing toward making you feel better but I'm wishing you some peace this season.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Chicky

T- I keep typing and deleting my words. Thanks for letting us know how you are missing your sweetness this year. I will pray for you and yours.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMary-LUE

Oh T...you sure know how to tell a story. I'm sorry this one doesn't have a happier ending and I wish so much that there were a way to turn back time for you. Though I know loss very well, I cannot begin to imagine what it's like to walk in your shoes. I'm sorry. You must miss your Shalebug so very much.

December 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterIzzy

I'm sorry T. My heart aches for you and I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be for you and your family, especially during holidays.

I pray that you find peace.

December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWeekends Off

Beatiful sentiments. I feel lucky to be let into the heart of you through these entries. I'm wishing you peace and comfort this Christmas.

December 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersoleclaw

I'm so sorry that your little boy can't be with you this Christmas. I hope it will give you comfort that you are an amazing mother and you gave him extraordinary love when he was here with you, and he had the best possible time surrounded by his family. I'm sure he knows that.
Lots of hugs.

December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMy float

My heart is with you. You're such an attentive and loving mom, especially in the way you made sure your Bug experienced Christmas. You have reminded me to slow down and experience it, too. *hugs*

December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterB.E.C.K.

I am so sorry, friend. Your honesty is heartbreaking and so is your loss.

December 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Chicken

As one parent to another I'm nearly lost for words here-
You are truly one amazing person. No other could have given him more.

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercreative-type dad

In times like this all we can do is lie and hope that the lies become the truth.

You have my deepest sorrow and best wishes. I hope that you find joy this year.

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdreadmouse

My heart is aching for you right now. You are such a powerful writer -- reading your posts makes me feel like we're sharing mugs of hot cocoa and you're sitting right in front of me, talking to me. And what I want to do right now is reach over and wrap my arms around you.

He's with you, T. With every ornament you hang, every strand of tinsel you toss, he's there. Watching thoughtfully.

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermamatulip

So I've been away all week, and come for a visit, and you make me bawl.
Hugs, friend.
Maybe try to look at it the way I did last year with Mom gone ... although my heart wasn't really in it, I told myself that I was damn well going to put all of this stuff out because she WAS still here. I decorated for her, you see, because she spends every Christmas here.
It helped.
And I hung up her stocking.
It's hung this year too, and I feel a bit better.

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJ.

T, there was never a little boy better loved than your Bug.

You are doing so well to be still celebrating Christmas in the way that you are (even if you have to 'fake it until you make it') - Fric and Frac will always remember how you pushed on through your grief so you could love them well, too.

Wishing you some joyous laughter to go with this tears this Christmas.

XO

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjellyhead

I usually come here and laugh at your jokes and your silly posts, but today I cried at your loss. After I thought about it, I suddenly came to the conclusion that Bug is a perfect little boy now, just as normal as Fric & Frac and having the best time of his life with the angels...and probably bragging about what a great mother you are.
I wish I could comfort you.

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAbandoned in Pasadena

Heartbreaking and beautiful and...wow. I continue to be amazed at your honesty and bravery and how eloquently you're able to articulate your experiences. I know you'll provide a beautiful, memorable holiday to fric and frac. No matter how many cookies you do or don't bake.

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMom101

When I read your thoughts of your Bug I can only gather he was the luckiest little boy ever. I imagine his siblings feel the same way. Your little angel I bet is the shiniest star out there.

December 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJ

Thank the heavens for angels like Bug.

PS I wanted to thank you so very much for your comments a while back on HBM. I've been keeping up with for awhile, even before then, so to hear your words ment so much. Here's to a wonderful holiday season.

December 9, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjaxmom

I love you T!!

Merry Christmas and all the best!!

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDaisydee

I love you T!!

Merry Christmas and all the best!!

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDaisydee

I love you T!!

Merry Christmas and all the best!!

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDaisydee

And what a WONDERFUL little man Heaven has gained. He's with you, especially at Christmas. You are always in my prayers.

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterL-Girl

Ok so I thought blogger wasn't taking my comment hence that is why it is posted 3 times. Sorry!

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDaisydee

That sound you hear is my heart breaking for you and my tears as they fall from my eyes.

You are a very strong person and you must do the best you can for your children and husband. You must also be strong for yourself. The pain will ease over time even though each year will bring back memories of your beautiful son.

Those of us who love you cannot feel your pain -- we can only express our sorrow. We can think we know how you feel but we do not walk in your shoes. Do know, however, that if we could take your pain, we would do so in an instant.

December 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMotherkitty

You have more strength, than anyone I have seen in a long time. I am so sorry for your loss, you are handling it like a champ. God Bless you and your family this Christmas and always.

December 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCarrieBradshaw

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