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Christmas Magic

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

grief, widowhood, life after loss

Christmas is....exciting and magical and exhausting. Putting the kids to bed and then googling "elf ideas" to then figure out what I can execute with little to no preparation...I mean, it is super fun, but probably because I know it's temporary.

Sometimes it feels like just another thing to remember but the joy and innocence of a child makes it worth every second.

Every year I pass by an instagram post that says something along the lines of:

"As you grow older, you realize that all that Christmas magic you felt as a kid was really just a mom that loved you so damn much"

Gosh, I can vividly remember standing in the family room of the home I grew up in, talking to Santa on the phone - a call from my dad's co-worker at the time.

I can remember the passion my mom had for finding the perfect one as we walked around the Christmas tree farm each year. I can still feel the excitment of walking down those steps in the morning. The wallpaper. My mom sitting in her robe. Her coffee breath. The chipmunks playing in the background.

The lights.

The love.

I dreamt about making Christmas as magical for my babies as my parents did for me growing up.

This season, we road on the "Polar Express" in New Hope for the second year in a row, had breakfast with Santa, explored Yueltide at Devon and walked through Tinseltown in Philly with hot chocolate.

Polar Express

I, along with four grandparents, watched Dante and Dominc perform in their school Christmas play last week. Dominic was an angel and Dante was a Christmas tree and the only one in the school to sing a solo which he crushed!

Secret santa drops off a gift each night and our elf now has an elf pet that we named Rosie. We made cookies, decorated gingerbread houses, and ate way too much icing. We've made elf-shaped pancakes and our mornings have become increasily more chaotic now that we have four advent calendars to open before breakfast.

Meet Mr. Elf

We've crossed all the things off the Christmas to-do list.

Grief hasn't ruined our holidays, though the deeper parts of grief typically ramp up around this time of year.

With little ones, the holidays are still filled with joy and magic. There's nothing quite like seeing Christmas through their eyes.

Grief does, however, paint certain moments a few shades darker.

For example, I absoultey love recieveing Christmas cards but those family pictures still hit different these days.

I think they always will - though I'm incredibly grateful for the beautiful way my own family has grown as a result of our trauma.

I've had days that my grief was all-consuming. We recently moved my mom's urn into a bench similar to Mike's, right by his side. For the first time the other week, I stood by them both at the same time on the cemetery grounds. It was beautiful and sad and a bit overwhelming. Not only is there an urn in each of their memorial benches but with that urn, locked tightly inside, is a huge piece of my heart. Without that piece of my heart, there is a hole. A void that can't be filled. A hole you learn to live with. A hole that your heart grows around but not through.

There are still other random moments that arise. Little reminders that our life is non-traditional. I think there always will be. I guess that's ok.


This year, I bought the boys "daddy books" for Christmas, but couldn't wait for Christmas to give them. They each now have a 10x10 white book in their night stands to look at whenever they want to.

At their request, we page through their books each night before bed.

Taking his daddy book to the potty with him.

Dominic woke up in the middle of the night, turned his light on, grabbed his "daddy and dominic book" out of his night stand and brought it back in bed with him to fall asleep.

The biggest Christmas miracle of all: We are finally all sleeping in our own rooms!

Matthew has been up every night for the last month helping the boys to feel safe and secure in their own room without me present. It's been a rollercoaster and I've had to fight my instincts to run in and comfort them because my instinct often come from the lens of trauma. I read the book "The Invisible String" by Patrice Karst and remind them that even if we're not physically next to each other - we're connected.

Our attachment doesn't go away. The Invisible String connects us whether we're in another room, another state, or another dimension.

My instinct to protect them from any pain or saddness is perhaps an overcompensation for not being able to protect them from the pain of losing their dad - as if by fostering an ultra-attachment, I could also somehow protect them from the pain they have yet to endure from it.

Letting other people help with tough moments and big feelings...letting other people comfort, console and kiss a boo boo here and there, allows my boys to form deep connections with other people besides just me. Which is beautiful. And healthy. I am so lucky to have someone in our life that treats and loves the boys like they've always been his own.


Anyway, we're counting down the days until Christmas, hoping that Santa can overlook the wild boy behavior and the lack of listening to focus on the good...kinda like we're trying to do in life. :)

Merry Christmas!!!


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