published in Animals, Change, Christmas, Death, Gratitude, Grief, Inspiration by Maryanne | December 18, 2014

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time…by Celebrating What Is

Old Santa Stocking

Vintage x-mas stocking from Momma Pope’s place 🙂

I know you’re busy so I’ll keep this short and sweet, like a homemade shortbread cookie!

Well, I certainly seemed to have listened to my own advice and taken to heart the Kahlil Gibran quote I wrote about a few weeks ago in the article, Leaving What and Who We Love:

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

– Kahlil Gibran

So instead, I am simply having a wonderful Christmas time!

For when it comes to dealing with the first Christmas after the loss of a loved one, I have tried it both ways over the years: 1) remembering fondly the good times with people and/or pets that have passed on, or 2) remembering the happy times with people and pets that have passed on and dwelling on the fact that those good times will never be again.

And let me say the former is definitely the way to go.

Focusing on the fact (and yes, it is a fact) that those good times will never be again is not only an exercise in futility, it is also, I suspect, a dishonour to the very people and pets we are supposedly fondly remembering.

As such, despite losing my Mom, my dog and my Mother-in-Law this past year, I am thoroughly enjoying this Christmas season thus far! I find myself reflecting on all the wonderful memories I have of my Mom, Soda, Mrs P and others – but laughing instead of crying.

Remembering instead of missing – and the difference is significant.

Although the good times from the past will never be again, for that would be impossible, the sooner we can open our hearts to all the new good times waiting to unfold in our lives, the happier we’ll be. And I’m finding that an effective way for this to happen is to celebrate all the good that IS in my life, right here and now…and there’s an awful lot.

Holly & Taylor posing in front of tree

Holly & Taylor

I had my annual Christmas sleepover this past weekend: four girls, one dog and a VERY messy house. It’s taken me three days to tidy up from the tree-decorating & card-making extravaganza but it was worth every second of it 🙂

The girls and I unpacked all the boxes of my own Christmas decorations plus all the boxes from my Mom’s. That’s a LOT of decorations…and a lot of memories.

paige & ella with flake sign

Ella & Paige with my favourite decoration: “So Many Flakes, So Little Time”

Experience has taught me that, depending on one’s past year and state of mind, opening up boxes of Christmas decorations can be an exercise in delight – or it can be the emotional equivalent of discovering landmines wrapped in tissue paper. Each ornament, decoration, stocking or half-burned candle has the potential to bring not just a memory to the surface but also a wave (gentle or tsunami) of emotions.

But the truth is: opening all those boxes, especially the ones from Mom’s place, was a hoot! It brought back awesome memories of being a kid, growing up in Calgary.

arbutus charlie brown tree

Arbutus Charlie Brown tree with Momma Pope’s x-mas decorations

So the girls and I decorated the main Christmas tree with my usual ornaments – and then we put all my Mom’s ornaments on an arbutus tree branch…a West Coast Charlie Brown tree. I put it on the table in my sunroom so I can see it from the kitchen. I love it!

There was also some Christmas baking going on. Sure, it was a bit x-rated at times but that, after all, is exactly the kind of thing Aunties are good at 🙂

ella rolling dough

Ella rolling out dough

x-rated gingerbread cookie

Gingerbread cookie with strategically-placed Toffifee

Related blogs:

The Gift of Gratitude – Appreciating What Is

The Christmas the Wheels Fell Off

Say WHAT? Sorting Other People’s Stuff

Leaving What and Who We Love

Maryanne Pope is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. She is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the executive producer of the documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.

 

2 Comments

  1. Nina Steele on December 19th, 2014 at 1:04 pm:

    Reading your book, I sometimes felt as though I knew both your mum and mother in law and so I am saddened to hear of their passing. Death is the ultimate test of our strength and you seem to have been tested so many times at such young age that I cannot help but wonder what God’s plan is for you, or whatever you want to call that power that I believe exist in all of us. Some say that death is not the end but the beginning and that this life is a big dream from which our soul awakens at the time of death. Whatever the truth, death is painful and the only comfort we can take from it is that if the soul lives on, then we will see our loved ones again and I hope that this brings you some comfort. Wishing much love and peace. Nina

  2. Maryanne on December 23rd, 2014 at 12:15 pm:

    Thank you so much for your powerful words, Nina! You certainly raise the age old question: is there some sort of Divine plan behind what happens in our lives? Or is it up to us to choose how to respond to what happens to us? I suspect it is a bit of both.

    I do very much believe that the soul lives on after the death of our bodies – and that belief has given me comfort over the years. But it also makes me feel a strong sense of responsibility, both to myself and to my loved ones who have passed on, to make the most of what happens to us in this lifetime – and learn what there is to learn.

    Thank you for reading A Widow’s Awakening!

    Take care,
    Maryanne

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