A new pen wouldn’t hurt either

For years and years, I’ve run a very tight Christmas ship.  Very tight. Spreadsheet kinda tight, and it’s really worked for me. It’s prevented a hysterical sort of feeling in my tummy and made it possible for me to get a lot done during the run up to the holiday.  This year – well this year there was a problem with the spreadsheet.  The appointed day came to open it and start worrying about Christmas, and I opened it, saw my mothers name on it and closed it again.  I’d made notes about what her gift would be, what I had to take to her house for Christmas dinner, what sort of cookies I had to bake in time for her annual Christmas party, and it just stung too much too see how many things we always do that we won’t this year.  I’m not sure what happened after that, but the general sense of dread I’d had about the holiday turned into a more specific one, and I entered a prolonged period of denial.  I just didn’t worry about it.

I didn’t pre-shop, I didn’t worry about presents, I didn’t knit Christmas specific stuff (much) … I didn’t do any of the things I usually do, and for a while that seemed like it was working.  I didn’t have to feel bad that my mum won’t be at Christmas… I think on some level I’d just decided that we wouldn’t have one. It seemed so simple.  There was just one little problem with that.

elliotsfirstchristmas 2017-12-11

It’s Elliot’s first Christmas, and this family is so, so good at Christmas – in no small part because my mum was such a wonderful grandmother, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I owe him the same… and not just a token Christmas, a really lovely one. To somehow figure out new traditions – new ways of doing things.

I don’t know what’s going to be possible – I’m not even sure how to handle things. I mean, do I bake meringues if what I did with them was take them to my mother’s party? When do I see the relatives I saw at mum’s? Do they come to my house? What do we do in the afternoon on Christmas day, when usually we would bathe and dress to go to my Mum’s? It seems really complicated to figure out, and I can tell that it’s going to take a lot of energy. I remembered to buy Meg some blank ornaments so she could make them with Elliot’s foot and handprints, and I managed somehow (a little late for me) to put the tree up, and cried sentimentally the whole time I did it, but it’s up there, and it is lovely to have it, and I do love seeing it. It hurt to make it happen, but I see now that it would have hurt more to not put it up. I’m going to keep that in mind as I try to get the rest of this thing going.

elliotsfirstchristmasornamentbetter 2017-12-11

This Christmas is going to be about the basics. People. Time. Being together.  There isn’t going to be a mad knitting dash to the end (that’s a lie I have one sort of wild plan) I’m not going to make a million cookies – just the favourites we really love. (I don’t know if that’s meringues.) I’ve come to this a little late to the party – just about two weeks to get it all together, but I’m going to be gentle with myself and my family – we still weather regular storms. Making a Christmas grocery list is a chore that should have taken me ten minutes today, but it came grinding to a halt as I encountered a recipe card in my mum’s handwriting.  I love her handwriting. Reflecting on that and looking for other cards she wrote turned it into a lost half hour.

I was going to knit a ton last night – but a first attempt to make a family plan to deal with mum’s stuff degraded into trying on all her shoes. (They mostly fit Erin and I. It was sad and funny and… not knitting.) I have a feeling a lot of it is going to be like that, and I don’t know how to plan for it, maybe you can’t. Maybe this year just isn’t going to be compatible with a plan, really. Maybe this is the year I just do…. what?

So far, my entire Christmas plan consists of me saying “We are really going to have to do something about Christmas” and so far, that hasn’t worked at all. I’m going to go out now, into the snow and I’m going to try buying a new notebook, and writing  “Christmas” on the front, and seeing if tomorrow I have a realistic plan for getting this thing fixed. It will probably work. Office supplies are definitely a good first step.


307 thoughts on “A new pen wouldn’t hurt either

    • Yup. Maybe you’re even the matriarch now. My sister is. I haven’t told her, though. Maybe she hasn’t noticed in the 7 years since Mom died. Yeah, right.

      • My sisters immediately told me I was the matriarch now – I wear the mantle proudly but differently than my Mom did.

        Christmas will probably be different for you now, Stephanie but it will be wonderful. Enjoy your family gatherings and memories of your Mom. I know I do every Christmas (this is the 4th since she passed).

        Merry Christmas!

    • In 2003 my father died on Sunday , August 24. My mother died 9 Sundays later on October 26. That Thanksgiving my mother-in-law had the family hold hands in a circle and tell what each person was thankful for. I was still in shock and grieving heavily and could not think of one single thing I was thankful for. Yes, this Christmas will be difficult for you. I always think about the song from Les Miserables about the empty chairs at holidays. That new grand-baby is your focus this year. The photo in this post is the best pic I’ve seen in a long time (with the Santa photo a close second)! Share your traditions with him and start new ones. Hold Little Elliot close and whisper stories to him about how much your mother loved him. He definitely needs his own framed photo of her too.

  1. Being gentle is the best thing you can do. Grief isn’t linear. You go through the stages when and how you go through them. I’m sure your family is right there with you. Making the season about them is a beautiful tribute to your mother. And yes, office supplies are always good.

  2. Dear Stephanie — You have it right. Christmas is about being with the ones you love. You will jump into this great Unknown with the hole where your mother would have been, and you will be with the ones you love, and it’ll all work out somehow. Sending you my very best wishes for a Christmas filled with love.

    Also, I meant to leave a comment in your post about what your mother said about it being mean to make it look like you had it all together when really there were dirty diapers lurking in a garbage bag in the back yard — and to thank you for being so honest in your posts, especially the ones where you let us in on your knitting mishaps/mistakes. But now, especially, for letting us in on this part of your Christmas. Life is difficult, but you have so much love in your life. You will make it through this, too.

  3. Perhaps this will be the Christmas that just is. And rightly so. There may be new traditions, but revisiting old ones is also good, even if it is only in telling stories about them. The holidays are kind of a mad time anyway, so adding grief and change and new joy (Hi, Elliot) are OK. Perhaps next year is the time to worry more about a big plan and exactly what those new traditions might show themselves to be after a little experimenting, and maybe missing some you thought you didn’t need. Sending you and yours a hug and good thoughts.

    • Yes, this is perhaps the ‘getting in training’ for Christmas 2018 – which will be the first one Elliot will be old enough to be more actively involved in and will maybe even remember. All he needs now is to be wrapped in love (and knitting) and you and your family seem to providing that in abundance already.

      • I was going to say something similar. This Christmas, Elliott can be the new joy, along with the new sorrow. He won’t remember it, but the love you want him to feel will be there. He won’t eat the cookies, or eat much of the food, or count his presents, but he will feel his family around him. And he will make you smile through your tears.

    • It brought tears to my eyes also, as I too, miss my mom. All these years since dad died I thought I had been making Christmas for me. When mom died I discovered I had been making it for her. 3 years later I still don’t do a very good job making it for me but I am going to keep trying. Hug to your heart the good things (extra hugs to Elliot, and you too). Do what you loved from past years, leave out what you can’t do this year and see next year what you missed and want to try again. And most importantly love yourself enough to give yourself a break!

  4. You are now the elder grandma. You have to keep the traditions, or make new ones.

    I will say this, if there’s a cookie that has always been made, for as long as you can remember, this is not the year to stop making it. Or a tradition that you always do, don’t drop it. This is a time to embrace it, and make *sure* that it’s there – because that’s going to be part of a lovely memory for everyone: not of what they have lost (even if it brings a little sadness), but what was given to them by a person who loved them deeply. I think that will hold far more weight in happiness than maudlin moods and tears.

    • Beautifully said. I wish someone had given me this advise after my mother died. I had to wing it. I believe that grief isn’t linear. It sometimes just hits you like a ton of bricks.

  5. Maybe it will just be more organic in the sense of “go-with-the-flow” this year, and that’s OK. Rise to the challenge when you can, and go easy on yourself when it’s a bit much at that time.

  6. The mister and I are officially “The Old Folks” this year. His mother passed away this summer at 89 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. We have decided to do what feels right. We never really liked those candied yams so they are gone. But we do love the kifle and plan to make lots. It’s about moving forward to the future and honoring the past. Your mother lives on in your hearts. Be sure to tell Elliot about her. Try not to overthink things and everything will be fine. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • had to google “kifle”. ooooooohhhhhhh. a new cookie for the plate that isn’t round or square. Sounds yummy. Thanks for the introduction.

  7. Just thanks for sharing. It helps a lot of people realize that they are not alone, or weird, or mentally off-balance when they grieve a lost loved one. The reminders are constant, and sometimes hurt the most when you are not expecting them.

  8. Seeing something our mom would have loved to receive for Christmas is hard. We lost three older ladies this year, and as we rejoice that they are in heaven, we grieve that they are not here with us. Blessings to you and yours.

  9. I lost my sister this August and am feeling the same thing. We were very close and her death was very unexpected, not least because she was younger and seemingly healthier than me. Wrapping gifts for one less person is hard, looking at all the ornaments she made through the years is hard, remembering all the jokes we shared was hard. I am still in shock. I thought we’d have so many more years together.

  10. Frankly, office supplies have been the first step out of most of my tight jams and I personally recommend graph paper. More plan-y somehow.

  11. I was reading this post and thinking “I agree, be gentle”, and then I saw the picture of Elliot and all other thoughts left my head.
    Usually, when I see exceptionally cute photos, my response is “That could only be cuter if you added kittens or puppies to the mix.” I don’t think even kittens and puppies could make that photo any cuter! I even called my husband into the room, and he agreed that Elliot has maxed out the cute!

  12. Last year I was partly where you are now. We had always spent Christmas day with my inlaws and in June 2016 my Mother in law passed away. A lot of things happened in the next six months and I knew that we had celebrated our last big family Christmas with over 40 relatives. But all of our adult kids and our grandson could be home and so we had to start something new; something different, something smaller, something quieter. This year it will just be my husband and I and one child and his significant other and so again it will be different, smaller and quieter. The snow is falling gently outside and it fills me with peace and calm. As you start new traditions, I wish you the same.

  13. Oh sweet knitting friend. I know. My Mum passed away suddenly 17 years ago, 2 days before Christmas. It’s never been the same but we’ve managed. My thoughts are with you.

    • My mom died suddenly 19 years ago on December 22. Yes, it’s never been the same but then again, as I always tell people, when I get weepy thinking about my mom as I often do especially at Christmas, I say, what would it mean if I ever stopped crying for my mom? It’s a good thing to care that much. You know what I mean. Thinking of you Ann, and you too, Stephanie.

      • Thinking of all you ladies.

        My Mom passed away eight years ago just after Christmas. As she was in hospital, we were delaying Christmas till she came home…which never happened.

        Christmas is bittersweet still. I find the recipe cards and the ornaments my Mom loved. I still can’t buy red wrapping paper as Mom preferred her decorations in blues, greens, silvers and golds. O Come All Ye Fairhful is still her carol.
        Cherish he memories, laughter and tears. Christmas is a time of memories. Stephanie, make new ones this year as you hold all of your loved ones gently this year. Be gentle with yourself. Love persists…whether you make the macaroons or not.

        Hugs to all.

        • For me it was my Dad. He died suddenly on December 20th 2 years ago. I still struggle to make Christmas what it is supposed to be when the season just makes me sad. I pulled out the ornament box today and it is filled with ornaments that my Dad liked to get for us every year. And each memory is so bittersweet. But, as others have said, we owe the next generations the joy of the season that our parents created for us and our little ones. Hugs around.

  14. I always write up my Christmas card list, get cards together, and write down what we ate, and what went right and what didn’t, gifts given and received. That way, the next year everything is ready. This year my father passed away and I had to cross him off the list. It has been a few months since he died, but this is like walking through water. Everything is difficult. But I know everything will eventually get better and better. I understand. You don’t understand until you go through it.

  15. It took me three years. I went through the motions because of dear grandchildren expecting the family party and handmade gifts, but my heart was numb. During those three years, we all made adjustments and we all still go through funks, but Christmas is sort of back to the festivity level we all enjoyed so much. Yes. Things have changed even though they really haven’t. Those are the things that are just things and can be adjusted when you stand back and ask, “Why are we doing this?” or “Why are we doing this this way?” But the substantial warm glow of being together has mostly returned. There’s the occasional bittersweet moment of, “She would have loved to see that,” but mostly life goes on and you grow to accept that you are now “she.”

  16. And may I gently suggest, as a daughter, that it’s a lovely gesture to let the girls take over some traditions….or make their own….

    • Yes, if there were things you did for your Mum, perhaps the girls can do them for you now?

      And it will be ok, whatever you do (or omit) Thisbe christmas is not a lifelong commitment to doing it that way every year. Maybe something you can’t bear to do this year will be the right thing next year or the year after.

      My Christmas will be very different this year too, but it will be all right. Just different.

    • This is what I was going to gently remind you of as well. You don’t have to figure this out alone, or be solely responsible for making things happen. Based on all you’ve said about them I’d wager your very grown up girls might be eager to take on some of the responsibilies for making the holiday wonderful. It can be a healing thing,
      But also, as most everyone has said, this year will be hard no matter what you do or don’t do. Be gentle with yourselves and try to let “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” fall by the wayside. However you need to navigate this is ok.

      • As a grown up daughter who lost her grandmother somewhat unexpectedly this year, I couldn’t agree more. Even as I’ve watched my mom try not to burden me with her grief, I’ve wanted badly to take that burden from her. I’ve also wanted to remind her and myself that Grandma lives on in the things she taught us by trying to fill in what holes I can. In the middle of knitting for a brand new nephew, I dropped everything to knit dish cloths (which I despise) because I’ll be darned if there’s not going to be a dish cloth in every Christmas stocking, as Grandma would have done.

  17. Office supplies are always a good first step, which is why I have a zillion blank books I was going to journal in, or journaled in for a short period then stopped. For me, an office supply store is almost as dangerous as a yarn store.

    I did say almost.

  18. We love you. Christmas for Eliot (sp?) will be wonderful, and there will be new traditions for him. And take lots of deep breaths.

  19. It will work out because when you look at Elliot, you will know that whatever you do, his first Christmas will be special. Grandson’s are awesome that way. My daughter texted me a video today of my grandson crawling and it melted my heart, just as I’m sure every one of Elliot’s firsts melts yours. No, it won’t be the same, but you have the basics and they will get you through while you start new traditions.

  20. We are sorta in the same boat- my mom died last January. I moved in with her and took care of her the last few years.

    I wasn’t going to “do” Christmas, but my autistic niece informed me everyone was coming to my house for Christmas dinner…so I went from Scrooge to Auntie Mame in a span of five minutes…

    Starting NEW traditions… everyone pick a favorite food and bring it. Mini hamburgers, fine. Frosted Flakes cereal, fine. If we end up with 4 desserts and no greens, so be it.
    No dressing up- come in your pajamas if you want.
    New and different- the “new normal”….

    We will be ok. And so will you.
    I’ll be thinking of you and yours!!!!

  21. Stephanie, My heart goes out to you. Your eloquence is helping me.
    My Mom died in July and I too, had that moment where I opened up my list from last year and saw Mom’s name at the top and it just deflated all my plans for starting preparations that day. I am not feeling so festive as usual and the hole in my heart gets tweaked by odd things. Still, I am knitting hats for my lovely grown children and working on being present to my blessings.
    You touch me so much with your writing and I wish you and yours a lovely Christmas.

  22. For the first time in 3 years we have Christmas trees. When I opened the tub of decorations there were the beaded canes, the cross stitched ornaments, the lace and beaded wreaths, the tiny crocheted stockings and bells—all pieces my mother had made. And I cried. Later in the afternoon two of the grandchildren—Mother never met any of my three or grieve the three we lost—came over. They oohed and awed over the decorations and asked about them. They know about their great grandmother from the stories and the remembrances we have shared. Sometimes it is at first bittersweet even after nine years; but, I am always glad to have those memories. You will too—I promise.

  23. My dad died last December 27. Every time I see something he’d like, or hear that Christmas song he always sang (It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas) and I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, I smile. I hear his voice in my mind. And I still have “Mom and Dad” in my cell phone. I can’t bring myself to change it.
    Sending you hugs!

  24. Just be gentle with yourself. It’s the best thing that you can do. It won’t be the same…it can’t. But you are right to think about new traditions and how they will be the traditions that Elliot comes to know. We lost my mother-in-law on the 20th of December in 1999. It was dreadfully hard to have Christmas without her, but we did things differently than usual and it was ok. She always drank wine out of an old jelly jar, so we used that jelly jar as the tree topper. We found ways to include her without her being there… and we made new memories that we can laugh about now.

  25. Sending you love and hugs. Keep that adorable little face ever in mind and it will be ok-ish.
    We lost my father in 2012. Today, I stumbled over what would have been the most perfect Christmas present for him. And learned again that grief prefers a sneak attack.

    • Your “sneak attack” comment is SO TRUE.
      My daughter ( home from uni for Christmas break) & I were watching Love Actually for the 100th time. It was the year after my Dad had passed away. The final scene at the airport just got to me. I completely broke down, crying out of control.

  26. Christmas is about people and memories. Take time to remember your mom. That way she’ll still be there with you. I almost lost my mom this year, and while I still have her, it’s scary thinking about what will happen when she’s not.

    Your family is there for you and you for them. Enjoy.

  27. Seeing a recipe card with my Gram’s perfect cursive writing while at my sister’s hit me hard yesterday too. My Gram’s been gone for 8 years, and still…whoosh. There it was, emotions just as intense as if she died recently.

    And my Dad died on Christmas Day 17 years ago, so there are, of course, thoughts of him as we go about our family celebrations. Our first Christmas without him, on the one-year anniversary of his death, my extended family packed up and went to Portugal for a week. We knew we needed something different, that the hole he left was just too big to try to do things the same. That was a good transition/distraction for us, as I suspect Elliot will be a beloved distraction and source of joy for your family on and around Christmas day. Different can still be delightful, and it’s okay to make new traditions while still adoring memories of the way things used to be. ♥ to you all as you find your way.

    p.s. That pic of Elliot is unbearably adorable. But you already knew that. 🙂

  28. That Elliot is a cutie. Amazingly so.

    Take a big breath and ask your daughters what they would like to do. Maybe one of them would like to host something? It doesn’t always have to be you doing everything. You have a lovely family. Start your new list with Elliot at the top, then you can’t go wrong.

    Big hugs knitting friend.

  29. “It hurt to make it happen, but I see now that it would have hurt more to not…”

    THIS. This is the heartache and beauty that’s intertwined in grief. Your heart will guide you on what is the most important aspects of Christmas tradition and this season will ebb and flow accordingly. Go gently, Love Deeply and I wish you and your family PEACE during this tender time.

  30. Thank you for sharing your grief. It really is healing for those who read it. And maybe for you as you voice it. I only hope that I will have made the positive influence on my children’s lives like your mother has made on yours. It is a very special gift. Cherish every memory. Heather’s mum.

  31. My mother died when she was 57….way too young, and just before Christmas. My kids were so young they hardly remember her, which makes me very sad. But what really hit me was realizing that there would be no Christmas surprises for me that year, as I buy my own present from my husband (for very good reasons….he has many wonderful traits but choosing a present is not one of them.). But my Mom always surprised me.

    It took a few years, but now my wonderful grown up children can and do surprise me, bringing the love full circle. Making Christmas special for Elliot will be a great way of honoring your mum by imitating her wonderful loving ability to make people happy.

    Barbara M. In NH

  32. My heart just breaks for you. The first year is so SO hard. My family didn’t celebrate Christmas very reverently, but my mom and I had a REAL THING about American Thanksgiving. The year after she died I found myself hiding in the pantry just at the mere thought of making the shopping list. I suppose this is a long way of saying that yes, I understand that it’s hard, that there’s an emptiness and a sorrow that’s nearly impossible to fathom. Peace to you, and to your family.

  33. You had the best example. Continue and add your own style in. It can’t help but be wonderful. My mom did Christmas eve like no one else. When she died i took over. A little her a little me. The first ones were hard and wonky. Now it makes me happy that my children do things she did and they never knew her but I carried on. You got this.

  34. We lost my grandfather on Christmas Eve 9 years ago. And then my grandmother 4 years later when I was pregnant with my son. Things aren’t the same — they can’t be — but they are still lovely. What strikes me now is to see that, were my children to describe Christmas, it would sound a lot like how I would describe Christmas as a child: surrounded by family, potluck food, casual, easy, crowded, loud, spoiled and loved. So the important things are still the same, and it’s comforting to see the immortality of a family lived in its future generations.

  35. My mom died just before Thanksgiving, the one holiday that we really celebrated together. That first year was tough, but it helped that I didn’t try to replicate the past. I accepted the day for what it was and not some notion of what it was supposed to be. I hope Christmas brings you peace happiness and consolation.

  36. Stephanie, I don’t Do Christmas the way you Do Christmas. However, I have to have the tree and lights and the garland with lights up the stairs or it’s just too blue. I know that because I skipped it one year (maybe that was the year that on my usual Decorating Weekend I had the most wonderful cat put to sleep and I just couldn’t deck the house).

    My mother died in September of last year and I knew I had to put everything out, and I did. Even left the lights up on the stairs till Mardi Gras.

    One of my coworkers lost her mom in April and asked me if I did Christmas last year, because she doesn’t have the heart to do it. I told it to do it anyway.

    Yes, you have to do it for Elliot, but you also have to do it for yourself. And figure out the new normal. It’ll never be the same but it still is.

    Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

  37. Office supplies are gifts of the gods. A new pen and notebook open up magical gateways. May this hold true for you and allow you new access to what Christmas can be for your family. We’re all behind you!

    And snuggle that new grandson of yours!

  38. Please, just be kind to yourself and each other. Do what you can handle. Figure out one thing. Figure out another thing. Repeat.

    And get all the office supplies. Pens in different colors? Post-it flags? Stickers? Everything.

  39. It will come together – beautiful moments shared, new traditions begun – some of which will be repeated year after year amd some that will be discarded yet remembered. May your Christmas be light and love.

  40. Take a deep breath, and remember that you got through the first Thanksgiving since your mom’s death. You’ll get through this Christmas, too.

    Yes, things will be different without her, and without Millie, too. Something your mom used to make will turn out a little differently. Millie won’t be trying to destroy the tree (that’s Elliot’s job now). There will be fewer stockings to hang.

    There will be positive things, too. Elliot will play with the wrapping paper and discarded boxes. You, Erin, Joe, and Ken can tell stories to embarrass The Ladies and Hank. Lou can sing carols in Spanish.

    It will be OK. Just don’t stress out over it. (And use the X-mas spreadsheet as kindling for the Yule log.)

  41. Office supplies are definitely a good place to start. I’m so sorry it hurt so much to open the spreadsheet. I understand completely. Your brain just goes “Nope!” and you can’t do a certain thing, no matter how small or simple.

    I couldn’t fill out forms if they asked “marital status” for about three years after my husband died. I’d start to cry and just nope out of it. I didn’t go to the eye dr for a really long time because they had a form like that and I’d just cancel and walk out. I just couldn’t. I’d think, it’s been two years, surely I can do it? Nope. Nope nope nope. A world of nope.

    And Christmas is an extra layer of ouch on top of it all. It’s extra hard to not have your mom around. It makes for impossible decisions. I love that you are going to do your best for Luis (though everyone will benefit, Hank may look like a cover model but he needs Christmas, too).

    I think of Stitch, in Lilo and Stitch, saying, “My family is little, and broken. But still good. Yeah, still good.” Christmas may be different, and feel broken. It can still be good. Your mom is there in all your hearts, and she would want you to be as happy as you can under the circumstances. I bet she got a big kick out of you and Erin trying on all her shoes.

    Big hugs for you and yours. I’m so sorry you’re having to do this without your mum. It sucks, and it’s wrong. But I have faith you and yours will find a way. We love you and we’re holding you in the light and the warm.

  42. I know it is hard, dear, and there is no one right answer. You have a big, loving family that is all heart sore. You will work it out.

    And actually, you could just wrap up a couple of big cardboard boxes for Elliott…and he would be thrilled.

  43. Oh Stephanie. I want to wrap you up in wool and give you some hot tea and let you just bask in warmth. My heart goes out to you. I remember the somewhat surreal feeling that the holidays had the first year after my own Mom died.

    ((((hugs))) You and your family will come up with something. It may be new and fragile, or it may be that you end up finding your old traditions are quite robust and carry a lot of healing. Regardless, the basics you plan to focus on is an excellent holiday all on its own.

    ” People. Time. Being together.”

    I hope you and yours have a lovely and loving Christmas. And because I know it’s something of a tradition for you guys (and it’s the holiday we celebrate) I hope that the Solstice reminds you that there is still a tiny flicker of light even in the dark.

  44. This will be the beginning of the new era. You are now the grandma, as we become the elders in the family. (Scary thought, to have to give up being one of the kids.) So understandable that you feel at odds!

    Give yourself the gift of forgiveness, if everything isn’t as perfect as you’d like it to be. Continue with the traditions that are important to you (cookies, foods, singing carols or whatever but remember the corn – you can do that kind of thing for Christmas, too). Snuggle with Elliot, start planning for his advent calendar (you know you’ll make one), and assign some of your tasks to your daughters (they are now the “you” – the middle generation – in the family).

  45. Trying on shoes is a good analogy. This year will be hardest, but maybe easier if you can focus on what your new role is, as The Grandmother. What roles, too, for your children to start shouldering.

    I also think you should make the meringues. Every year, for you both.

  46. The first Christmas after losing my dad was awful – he was the center of all the previous ones. But we survived the day and tried to just think about how much he enjoyed the season. It was hard.

    The second Christmas- we tried to ignore it – didn’t buy or make gifts – we just went to Las Vegas – BIG mistake – trying to ignore the holiday didn’t work.

    Fast forward 14 years. We still miss him – fiercely – but the holidays are easier and we have moved forward. We’ve kept some of the old traditions – and have adjusted some others to better suit our lives now.

    This will be a hard year for you and yours – but know that those of us in cyberspace will think of you and your family and will hope that time (while not able to eliminate it) will ease your sadness.

  47. It’s always a good day when you share a new Elliott picture.

    I give my kids a Hallmark ornament every year because that’s what my Mom gave us kids, even though I’m pretty positive my kids wish I’d stop. Someday I won’t be here to do it, and I hope they treasure them then. It’s always bittersweet when I get out the last ornament I got.

    You’ll do all you can do, heart in it or not, because everyone needs holiday traditions, especially the kids (I mean the kids who think they’re beyond needing the traditions).

    You give so much of yourself to us, Stephanie, I just wish that we could be there to help you through this. Yup, I’d even go to the mall if you needed it. Hoping you have some peace & joy this Xmas.

  48. The little plaid man is certainly a treat! All the lovely lights and sparkly things, and his family and maybe a bite of his first Christmas cookie will make him happy, singing and laughter, and tears, too are part of the package. Keep what you love most and somehow without noticing, new traditions will be born. Lots of love.

  49. Last week I read something about how many of us, particularly women, try to do far too much over the holidays. It suggested that instead of trying to do everything for the sake of tradition, we focus on those few things we really love the most, and in the process find more peace and joy and sanity for ourselves and our loved ones.

    It sounds like you are in the process of trying to figure out which parts of your holiday tradition are most meaningful and essential as you find your way through this holiday season. It’s awful when grief and tears are part of the season. May it help a bit to remember that your readers are thinking and caring about you now and throughout the year.

    • This reminds me of the book “Unplug the Christmas Machine.” Instead of getting into the whirlwind that the holiday tends to become, determine which things are the very most important to you and your family. Maybe the gingerbread cookies, time together with family and friends, singing carols, playing charades, or whatever, but time spent together is the most precious part.

      Striving for perfection is a lot of pressure and can wear us down. We tend to become human-doings instead of human-beings.

      Maybe your new notebook, Stephanie, could be passed from household to household for your family members to write down their memories of your mother; a book of tributes to her.

  50. My family hasn’t had Christmas since my father passed away in 2012. He was the King of Christmas in the house, playing carols loud enough to annoy the neighbors, decorating the tree with abandon, and cajoling my mother into baking tons and tons of Christmas cookies. It was dysfunctional and fun and ours and now it’s gone. I think it’s because no one really knew how to make a functional Christmas without him.

    Don’t be like my family. Find a way to make Christmas yours. I know you can do it.

  51. I got the decorations down, the box sat in the middle of the living room for a few days and then I put it back up the top of the wardrobe. I just don’t have any Christmas in me this year.

    Much love Stephanie, I’m sure whatever you do, or don’t do, this Christmas it will be lovely if you do it together.

    • If you can bring yourself to do so, hang a wreath on the outside door, or place some other festive decoration. In spite of deep sadness, I’ve always felt that someone, unknown to me, will be cheered, although I will never know who or when.

  52. Office supplies seem like a fresh start and allow for many hopes and dreams.

    I’m feeling less alone, reading your posts and the comments. My mom is still with us but is currently in the hospital after having a stroke two weeks ago. This Christmas is not happening like I thought it would and I’ve been through many variations on Christmas with traditions happening at the drop of a hat with transitions in life. Divorces, deaths, marriages, births. Traditions from my childhood have morphed and changed so much but the one thing that hasn’t has been the love. I miss some old traditions but we’ve made new ones.

    I’m trying to just let this Christmas be and take it as it comes myself, I’m sure it will be a lovely Christmas even with changes as will yours. Merry Christmas.

  53. I think office supplies are always a very good start. I’m similarly behind this year, though because I was ill for most of November, so nothing in the same league as what you’re going through. I’ve decided to aim for everyone having a lovely day and being happy. It doesn’t matter what it looks like it matters what it feels like. That means an advent calendar along the lines of the ones you make will wait until next year rather than being done in a rush. It means I’m using wrapping paper from last year combined with plain brown paper and twine, to save me going to that shop and it means not everyone is getting a crocheted personalised bauble in their favourite colour as I had planned. Heaps has been done online rather than at the shops and I haven’t supported as many local and small businesses as I usually do. The kindergarten teachers are getting giftcards to the local café (which they will love but which don’t live up to my ideal gift for them).

    I’m slowing it down and focusing on the feeling – I think it might even work.

  54. Oh Stephanie, my heart aches for you and your family. I know the pain you describe so well, though it’s been nearly 9 years since I lost my mom suddenly on Dec 23rd, I was 28. We had presents from her to open that year, so we don’t really count that as the first without her. The next year we changed up all of our traditions. Instead of thanksgiving at her house, it was in Chicago at my sister’s. We even went out for Italian food instead of the turkey. Christmas came to my house instead. It really felt like avoidance at first. But I think it helped. You just can’t live up to your own expectations (especially within this first year after when it’s all so new and still unbelievable) of making everything just as it was before. Because it just isn’t as it was before. And one day you’ll find one of those recipe cards and it won’t sting, it will make you smile.
    Mine is just another voice in a never-ending stream of advice and opinions, I know. I hope you take what is useful and leave the rest behind. Grief is personal and you’re allowed this time and this space to go through it.
    My sisters and I have a twisted joke, we call it The Dead Mom Club or we say things like, “I made myself a birthday cake. Hashtag dead mom problems”. It’s the club no one wants to join and no one really knows what it is like til they’re in it for real. We’d all be curled up in the fetal position somewhere without our sense of humor (and each other) to get us through.

  55. Please be loving and forgiving with yourself this year – it will be a few years before you’ve managed to revamp the Christmas traditions for your family. What matters is that you get together – the rest (the cookies, the knitting, the dinner) is just detail. At some point you’ll have a new normal, but it won’t be this year.

  56. We were dealing with my husband’s metastatic cancer last December, but my daughter and I went ahead and tried to keep Christmas going properly. On Christmas Eve his leg shattered; we were in the ER all night and most of Christmas Day. We had dinner at my sister’s and went back to the hospital. He died a month later. I just can’t do a full on Christmas this year. We’ve scaled back, and hopefully will be able to celebrate the season next year. Stephanie, I think you have to do what you can, but don’t sweat it.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. That’s really hard. Be gentle with yourself, only do what you can. Give yourself as much space as you need to grieve.

  57. HUGS. You’ve got this. People. Time. Sweet First Memories. Sweet Remembrances. New Things. Old Things. Family. Knitting. You’ve got this.

  58. Christmas belonged to my grandmother, and for us children it was magical. It was only later that I realized that for our parents, it was more a series of command performances (such was my grandmother’s way). So when she began to decline, there wasn’t much appetite among the next generation for continuing the festivities. Determined that my much younger siblings shouldn’t miss out on the sorts of memories I had, I leapt into the breach.

    Thus, starting at 19, I made Christmas for my family. I cooked multi-course feasts for 16 people. I planned festive Christmas Day brunch. After I’d left home, I still flew in from far away to do it all. The year that my parents were overwhelmed by financial difficulty and there were no gifts for the younger kids, I scoured my old bedroom for things I could wrap up for them, and signed all of our names. Eventually, the younger kids got older, and they pitched in. The wonderful person who became my spouse rolled up his sleeves and joined the fray. We made some beautiful Christmases. It was exhilarating and exhausting. It sometimes felt like it was all that was holding us together.

    And then my father-in-law died. And a couple years later, my family fractured along a fault line few of us had seen coming. One of the children wasn’t coming home anymore, and maybe never would again. Nobody could face Christmas the way we’d always done it, especially not my parents, especially not me. I had made Christmas with all my heart, year after year, and it still hadn’t held us together. So I stopped.

    And a funny thing happened: I didn’t miss it. We did different things, but they were still warm and festive and I still cooked delicious food for the people I love. And I felt profound relief. Turns out, we didn’t need the elaborate whirl of festivity I had created to keep us warm and close. We came together anyway, because we wanted to, because we love each other. It was peaceful. There were holes in our hearts, and we didn’t pretend otherwise, but there was also joy and love.

    Your family is not my family, and I’m not telling you to do what we did. You will find your own way. But know that no matter how Good At Christmas you all are, you are not beholden to your traditions. You are Good At Christmas because you are full of warmth and love for each other, not the other way around. Different doesn’t have to mean less-than, and those Whos down in Whoville had it right (“Christmas Day is in our grasp!
    So long as we have hands to clasp!” and apologies to anyone who now has that song stuck in their head). Best holiday wishes and all the hugs to you!

  59. This won’t help you feel better, but I also lost my mom, so many years ago. We loved each other greatly, but didn’t spend much time together after I was an adult, because she couldn’t cope with a lot of interaction. We didn’t have many traditions because she couldn’t really manage them. We did have music, she was a musician, and the music is how she stays with me. Passing her music onto my children and grandchildren is a beautiful thing, singing more life into the present and future than we actually had in the past. So treasure that you had this with your mom – I have it with my own daughters, so grateful for this! The traditions evolve and bloom.

  60. I’m gonna go out on a limb here. Christmas will happen whether you DO anything or not. It’s still early days after the loss of your mum. You don’t have to do anything about Christmas at all. You can do it next year. This year, perhaps just focus on Elliott…who has NO idea about what Christmas is about, so maybe don’t try to make the perfect 1st Christmas for him…because he has no clue, really. Next year will be better. It really will.

  61. I didn’t read through all the previous messages as I myself had a plan for the evening that went all to hell when I got some bad news, so I’m sure this has been said before, but I think it’s worth repeating. This years plan should be about what feels right for you and your family. If that’s making meringues and having all the family present who we’re normally at your Mum’s then bake away, but remember to stop and enjoy. Hear your moms voice in all the noise, and listen to your heart. If the plan feels smaller than that and you decide you’re tired of meringues, cook something that feels good and remember the times that make you laugh as well as cry. Life is a balancing act. Not just with that old bastard time that you use your spreadsheets to battle into submission, but it’s a balancing act between joy and grief, love and frustration, and the dark and light. Remember to hold dear the now, and not forget the then. There’s a reason tears come from both happiness and sorrow. Take a deep breath, keep knitting and find your balance.

  62. I am so sorry on the loss of your mum. The first year of holidays without loved ones are the hardest. So many “she did it this way” or “that was her favorite”. What helped my family was that we all “borrowed” an item and a task. For instance..my item was a white polar bear plush. Every year it sits in a place of honor by the tree. The task is making cut out cookies from her (also handwritten) recipie. Another family member has her Nativity Scene. When we visit we stroll down memory lane and remember the good things . It does get easier..and I still can’t make a pie crust like her..but thats okay too. Heres sending you best holiday wishes.

  63. I am going to add a tradition this year- a whiskey toast to you, dear Steph, on Christmas eve. It will be at 8pm PST. Wishing you peace and strength to pull yourself and your family along through this first Christmas. Many hugs. M

  64. I feel you. I just spent the day doing the tree through tears. My Mom died two years ago and this is our 3rd Christmas without her. She lived with us for 8 years so she left a big hole. The first Christmas was okay because our daughter moved back home from Japan and we were so grateful she was back. We lost one and gained one. The 2nd Christmas we literally ran away I knew it would a ‘normal’ year and couldn’t picture it. So I planned all year for a 2 and half week extravaganza in Edinburgh, punctuated by 4 days in a 14th century castle, Langley, over Christmas. It was a total cowardly move, but it distracted us, made us fallin love with Edinburgh, and castle life was pretty good, but it was still sad at times. This year we’re back to normal. No more running away. The decorations had to come out after 2 years, the tree is up (My Mom’s favourite part) and now I’m forcing myself to start baking things. In time it’ll get easier, but I still cry on Christmas night when the shows come on that my Dad and I used to watch together, and that’s been 11 years, so I think the sad bits will always sneak in. I read though that to grieve deeply means you loved and were loved fiercely. And that’s a gift. Hang on to that.

  65. I can’t read the comments, maybe later. My husband died six weeks ago and I’m looking at the space where the tree should go. Like you, I’ll be better with it there (I think) but maybe I’ll be better able to cope with it tomorrow. The first time is the hardest, we will get through this because we have no choice. I’m planning on this year being “same but different”.

  66. I think if you (and the Ladies and everyone else) listen to your heart(s), you will know what Christmas can be this year. While the notebook will help, what will make the most difference is sitting quietly and listening to your heart.

    Merry Christmas planning.
    Chris S in Canada

  67. Oh Stef, it’s going to be tough. But there’ll be laughter too and just look at that smile! This year is a WIP. And you’ve got the important stuff covered. Just remember to figure it out with your family xx

  68. My mum died at 6 am Christmas morning 13 years ago this Christmas. I was 39 and my sister was 37. That day was hard. My sister was having a difficult pregnancy. Mum knew about the expected baby but knew she wouldn’t live long enough to meet him/her. But she was still excited about the new arrival. Lloyd was born five months later btw.

    We didn’t tell anyone til later that night so everyone else could have a happy Christmas. So many people say how awful that Christmas is ruined. But it’s not. Mum is with us every Christmas because it her day. Mum and Dad are buried in the churchyard of the church where I go to midnight mass. So I spend the first part of Christmas Day with them.

    We carry on some of mum’s traditions but we have new ones too. That first Christmas dinner consisted of ham sandwiches, dried fruit and custard.

    So do what you feel able to and know that you mum, like mine, is still with you. Put reindeer ears on your grandson, kiss him, cuddle him and eat cheese sandwiches if you want. But do want you feel able to do and if anyone doesn’t like it, well, that’s their problem.

    Merry Christmas, happy solstice, happy new year yo you and yours. It will be different without your mum…but different doesn’t mean bad.

  69. Re-read A Christmas Carol – there really is a ghost of Christmas past, and it’s lovely to remember our people at this time of the year. Traditions are handed down, and evolve, and there is a new generation now in your family.Light a special Christmas candle for your mother, , make that a new tradition, to keep her light burning amongst you as you gather for the day.
    I never put the tree up until five days before Christmas!

  70. Laugh, smile and just be together. I still cry for my mum and know when she is near me. I still keep some of her traditions but we have new ones too. It doesn’t make it easier just ok and that’s OK for now.

  71. First, your grandson is adorable. So precious and cute. Second, the first major holiday after a parent dies is tough. It gets a little better, but it takes time. Love on your family this holiday season, and they will love on you. Keep the memories close to your heart.

  72. I know it won’t be easy, but I have a feeling your mum would want you to celebrate and to make it a wonderful first Christmas for that sweet grandson of yours. Be kind to yourself. Cry if you need to — allow yourself to grieve. But also take time to appreciate the joy.

  73. This will be my second Christmas without my husband. We don’t have the same meal that was a tradition and we get together at my daughter’s house. I haven’t decorated for Christmas in these last two years because I now get out of the cold weather for 3 months right after the holidays. I don’t bake, send cards, or do any of the other Christmasy things. I don’t feel like this is wrong for me because everything is happening at my kids houses.

    Christmas was “us” together, being with our family. He will always be with me in my head and heart and I will watch my family as a new kind of Christmas is becoming tradition.

  74. Elliot is just perfect–oh that smile! That’s certainly an inspiration to carry on.
    My mum died in November 12 years ago now- I could not face Christmas at all. Did not decorate, packed up the kids and husband and spent the holiday in London- as far from home as I could get- we bought all sorts of goodies at Marks and Spencer and spent Christmas Eve all piled into one big bed, eating sticky toffee pudding and drinking champagne and watching 8 straight episodes of the Simpsons Christmas episodes. Weirdest Christmas ever, but that’s how I got through it. Yours sounds much braver. Peace to you and yours.

  75. Dear Stephanie,
    You write it so well – thank you. I too am enduring the grief of the first Christmas without Mum and the joy of our grandson’s first Christmas.Your writing makes it so clear what my siblings and I are feeling and how we are coping. My sister cried through the making of the traditional Christmas pudding with the recipe in Mum’s writing – I too love her handwriting and the many traditions she made happen for us. Some things stay the same, many things change. May your Christmas hold more joy than sadness. Hold that new boy close.

  76. Thank you for putting into words my own thoughts and feelings. I lost my Dad suddenly in April and Christmas was HIS holiday. He always went all out. Just trying to put one foot in front of the other this holiday and see what happens. I wish you comfort this holiday season.

  77. It’s ok, Steph. Give yourself a break. Things will settle into the new pattern. My mom had a little freak-out the year 3 of her 6 daughters got married. Would we all go to our in-laws? How was she going to fit that many people in the house? The first year, she made 50 lbs of turkey. We added 5 new people (one of the new spouses came with 2 kids) and she added another 25lbs of turkey. It’ll settle down and you’ll make new traditions (hopefully not 25 more pounds of protein). And thru them you’ll tell Elliot and new grandkids who come along about how Great-Grandma did stuff and how that thing was passed down from Great-grandma. And how much Great-Grandma loved this cookie, just like you! And it will carry on.

    In the meantime, many hugs to you and yours.

  78. The year of firsts will pass. Continue to give yourself the grace and love you and your loved ones need to get through it. Praying for you all.

  79. When overwhelmed, I frequently find office supplies to be a welcome anchor. Fresh sheets of paper, new ink, just sharpened pencils, unsullied erasers… all speak to the possibility of potential and orderliness and control. A sort of “you’ve got this” vote of confidence from the universe. Turn the first page of that new notebook and forge the shape of Christmas as it will be for your family now… traditions that will be guided by your memories of your mom and by your hopes for Elliott. God Bless.

  80. “People won’t remember what you did or said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” In this respect…..I have a feeling this year will be a lovely raging success, no matter what you end up doing. HUGS!!!

  81. Be gentle with yourself, your family and everything else. As I’m sure the comments above will say, the first everything will be hard. It was in my family.

    I bought my dad’s favorite candy for 3 years after he died. It took a while to get the message. I didn’t worry. Most understood. Those who didn’t don’t matter.

    My mom died thanksgiving weekend. I had started the process of decorating and wanted things perfect for a new family member, our daughter in law to be. The decorating never got finished. The special things didn’t get done. We had a nice holiday anyway. I just didn’t have it in me to do the same events and go all crazy. That Christmas was hard and very different.

    We have learned to make new events and traditions to encompass the family we have now. I’m lucky to have a husband who can tell me when I’m going overboard if I don’t recognize it. He comes up with ways to fit our new normal even if I don’t want the new normal.

  82. Be gentle with yourself and those around you. You will find that moment of grace where you know you will be alright…even if it is just for that moment. It may be with Elliott in your arms, gazing at the tree for a brief second. Enjoy it and move on. I wish I had the relationship with my mother that you do, but after so many years, that’s impossible now, even though she still lives. I do have that with my children though and if I am blessed with grandchildren, hope to have it with them. Go gently into the night…whether you prepare or not, Christmas will be here. Ask for help, let others take on what you can’t handle and as someone said earlier…let this be practice for next year when Elliott will be fully engaged. Blessings.

  83. Sending you comfort and light and all of the mood and plot-twist changes you need to keep going and feel good on the 26th about how Christmas worked out. I bet just being together will make it fine.

  84. I feel your pain, we lost my Mom on November 14th, unexpectedly. And while we are trying to keep ourselves busy, I’ve mainly been wasting time playing facebook games, watching tv, packing my apartment for the movers and NOT thinking about everything that will be different. My Dad is alone now, except he asked me to move in and that’s taken up some space in my brain, because if I let myself think about it, I can see myself climbing into bed and not coming out of it until sometime in January. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and I hope you’ll do the same. I haven’t knit a single thing since she passed and I was just thinking a new skein of yarn **might** get my knitting mojo back in gear, but I dunno. xoxo

    • Sorry about the loss of your mother. Even going out to look at yarn may brighten you, if only briefly. And if you choose one to take home, you may have spent a little time less wrapped in sorrow. The knitting will resume when you’re ready.

  85. I’m kinda sure that you have talked about how you feel with your beautiful, smart, capable children? What would they like to do for Christmas? Maybe they’d like to take on some of the matriarch’s duties, some of the things they particularly loved that your mother did? I send you and all of your family all best wishes for a joyful holiday season, and share with you the ache of spending it without your mother.

  86. Feel it. Even if it’s bad. Because if you try to avoid those feelings by shunning the “used-tos” you will rob yourself of your memories and your enjoyment on them.

  87. I’ve been thinking about you, withour really realizing I’ve been thinking about you. I hold you and your family in my thoughts this year. It will be hard but you’ll come out of it okay. And it’s okay to just be “okay”. I asked a co-worker recently how he was doing and he replied “body surfing on the change” (there’s a lot going on here at work and in the world of course) and I thought – that is about all we can do. Surf on the change. Don’t let it pull you under. Hugs and Light to you.

  88. I feel really strongly about this, which is ridiculous since I’m a) not you, and b) not you. However, that being said, I think you’re SPOT ON about being gentle with yourself. I think the things you’re doing–getting the handprint/footprint ornament, putting up the tree, baking a few cookies– doesn’t make a token Christmas. It makes CHRISTMAS. Christmas is going to look really different this year for you and your family, and that’s right. Do what feels important and bugger the rest. It’s going to be a perfect first Christmas for your grandson even if things are weird and feel wrong and there are no meringues.

  89. I echo what the others have said. Be gentle with yourself. Be together as a family, do what feels right, and make it special for Elliott. That will make it special for everyone. If knitting helps, knit. Your comment about your mom’s handwriting really hit home though, because I was thinking of this last night, when I ran across my own mom’s handwriting. She’s been gone for ten years, and though the loss is always deep, the pain has lessened. She is always a part of our Christmas, just in a different way.

  90. {{hugs}} Christmas will come, whether you’re “ready” or not, and THAT’S OKAY. Be gentle and kind and loving to yourself. Do what you want, don’t do what you can’t. It’s OKAY. Please know that there are a lot of us out here from The Blog who are thinking of you and wishing you the best.

  91. Long time reader, first (I think) time commenter- Steph, we lost my mom in November last year and it was hard to figure out what to do about the holidays – she was so good at them, even when she was ill. Be gentle with yourself, do whatever seems like the next right thing (you don’t have to go through her stuff yet, unless it needs to be moved), and know that you’re not alone. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts ❤

  92. Your mum will still be a presence at your Christmas this year, and all those that follow. That can be totally sad, or be a chance to acknowledge the sadness but also recall and celebrate the joyousness of her life with you. No Christmas that includes an adorable baby can be completely without joy–just looking at his picture warms my heart, and I’m a total stranger.

    I have a strange assortment of Christmas ornaments, which includes some my mother-in-law gave us from their collection, some we bought for our first tree together, some we acquired over the years, and now some from my childhood that I saved when my mother went into assisted living. It seems to me symbolic of how we all carry on our own holiday traditions–imperfectly, losing some and keeping some, with some sadness, but healing over time. It won’t always hurt to remember your mum, though this year it is absolutely the worst. You can pick through the memories this year, and choose what traditions you want for this year, even if they make a minimal collection. It will all fall into place, over time, and it will be both old and new and happy and sad at the same time, and it will be absolutely wonderful too. And someday, Elliott will say about you that you made Christmas a warm, lovely, magical time when he was a little boy. (All you really need is love)

  93. Steph, as long as you can gather with people you care about, (and there’s something to eat, but it doesn’t have to be everything you ever ate) Christmas will be fine. Your mum would be disappointed if you made it ALL about her not being there. You’ll all raise a glass to your mum, and miss her, and it will still be fine.

    For those who can’t be with those they most care about – call, write, Skype, whatever, and think of them as they think of you.

    Really cute – the icon it wants me to touch at the bottom of this page is – the world!

  94. My beloved younger sister died 10 days ago and tomorrow we have to have her funeral. Christmas was our favourite time of year and I so want to ignore the whole thing but I have a 10 year old granddaughter who wants to enjoy herself, as she should. Christmas will be different this year and next and so on for those of us who’ve lost someone but our lives go on and we will learn to enjoy it again. Be kind to yourself.?

  95. First, thank you so much for this post. In reading the comments, I can see how many you’ve helped, just in the ones who’ve posted.
    Second, while reading your post, I thought of the movie, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ . He took everything away that he thought was Christmas, only to discover Christmas doesn’t dwell there at all.
    We don’t see the wind. Only its effects. Similarly, what we see are love’s effects. I have seen more love in someone giving a hat to a homeless person, than in some of the most elaborate Christmas parties.
    You know what Christmas is about. Keep it in the center and all will be well.
    Again, thank you, as always, for sharing. So many of us find help in what you write.

  96. Office supplies are always a good first step. As is being gentle with yourself, and taking this as it comes. There is no easy way to get through a first Christmas after such a huge loss. Thinking of you.

  97. I’m feeling your pain – and joy! – at this time. Every “first” without your mum will be a new trial but she raised a wonderful family and you will find your way (a new notebook and pen are a terrific start). My dear mom, age 92 & 2/3, is still alive but not really “with” us, which is its own kind of challenge. We’ve figured out a way to weave the old and new traditions together and I know that you will, too, what with all the wonderful family and friends in your life. Sending warm wishes and good thoughts your way.

  98. P.S. My excuse isn’t as good, but the holiday baking got away from me last year. I asked my Hub and each kid to name ONE cookie they had to have. That worked out GREAT and I’m doing it this year, too.
    Just a thought.

  99. My dad was the big Christmas person in my family as I was growing up. He died when I was 17 in October. I remember that the first year was weird, but I don’t really remember the specifics now, 29 years later. Christmas has changed many times since then – my mom moved into a different house, us kids have gotten married and started families, and now the oldest grand child has 2 kids of her own. Every year looks a little different now, we rotate hosting duties, the crowd changes based on who is in town, etc, but, we get together for an afternoon meal and some presents on Christmas day with whomever can make it and it is lovely. We’ve added a few new traditions too – we pile into the car and bring grandma along to see Christmas lights most years.

    Put an email out to that extended family – is someone else up to hosting? Could you do it on 12/23 or 1/1 instead? Maybe you could morph the old tradition into a new one that feels good now.

  100. Be kind to yourself. Why don’t you call your siblings and kids and ask what kind of Christmas they want this year? You may find that all of you would like a scaled-back Christmas this first time without your mother. You all will have time to create new traditions (like rotating the Xmas day gathering). Elliott has a lot of years to build Christmas memories. All he’ll know this year is that he’s surrounded by people who cater to his every whim and that is very good.

  101. Well, I’ve been out of the loop. First, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve lost your Mum (and your cat). Second, I get it. I totally get it. I lost both of my parents four months apart in 2006.

    Like with your mum, it was also a case of “when Dad comes back from the nursing home things will get back to normal” (because he was only there to rehab a broken hip) and then it devolved into MRSA and death and then Mother being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer three weeks after losing Dad. She was gone in 3.5 months.

    On top of that, two other major events happened while all of this was going on. My niece and her husband adopted a little girl from China AND she found out she was a few weeks pregnant when she returned.

    And my sister sold her farmhouse and moved into a brand-new house next door to the daughter with the new babies. That farmhouse had seen us gathering for Christmas every year since they’d moved there when I was a child. We are talking 40 years of Christmases in that house.

    And now that, too, was gone. It truly felt like my world had lost all sense of balance and was out of orbit. I wanted to scream, “STOP. Just stop time for a minute and let me wrap my head around all this ‘new’. Don’t change anything else!” But time ignored me.

    Christmas that year was bizarre. It felt unnatural to me. New location. Missing people. New babies (which we’d never had at a single Christmas yet). Nobody knew what traditions to carry on or drop, there were many tears when my niece showed us the sweater she’d bought for Grandma that would have suited her perfectly, that she couldn’t return because she bought it in June (she’s one of those shoppers) and pink really isn’t any of our colors…

    We’ve adjusted, though, over the years. We’ve developed new traditions. The focus has shifted from us as the children to us as the elders. We’re Mom, Dad, Grandma (my sister), Auntie, and Weird Great-Aunt (me). It doesn’t feel the same. It never will. But after 10 years, it’s beginning to feel like it’s always been this way.

    My advice? Just flow with it. If it hurts too much to do it, set it on the back burner for next year. If it hurts too much to not do it, then steel yourself and do it, and allow yourself to smile through the inevitable tears. The first year of Things after a loss like this is the hardest. But it will fit into its new place and you’ll figure it out.

    Big hugs and much love to you, Steph.

  102. I think the first thing may be to remember that you’re not alone. You won’t be doing Christmas alone- you have your family to love you, support you, and decide with you what the new traditions will be. And whatever Christmas is like, you’ll be doing it right. There are no rules.

  103. Yes, office supplies cure all sorts of ills. I say bring out the big guns and get yourself a really nice fountain pen to go with your new notebooks. Elliott is the perfect reason to make Christmas this year.

    Don’t forget to wear red shoes as often as possible. They really do help–they do me anyway.

  104. Grief is a long and difficult journey that is made slightly easier if someone walks the road with you. Take the hands of your husband, your children and the lovely grandchild and carry on. You are the gramma now so on Christmas Day have everyone come to your place and start new traditions that are based on the lovely ones started by your mom. The love will always be there. Merry Christmas Stephane!

  105. I could look at Elliott ‘s picture forever. Such an adorable little guy. You have so many blessings Stephanie. Count them everyday! And you will get plans made. Things accomplished. But leave room for reminiscing with your family because I suspect they need it as much as you! Hugs!

  106. The first Christmas after my mother died was unbearable. I’m so sorry for you and I’m sending a million hugs to you. Let Elliot be the light the leads you out of the darkness.

  107. Sounds like you are looking at this Christmas the right way. It is hard to lose a parent and really hard to lose a parent that was close to you and then to get through the first Christmas without that parent is just tough. No other way to say it. It is tough. As you figure out your path for your and your family what matters will rise to the top.

    Traditions will change, Places will change, but the Love will remain.

    Peace and Love to you and yours.

  108. Yep, it’s going to be tough, it’s another one of those “firsts.” I still remember the first Christmas after my dad died (he died the day before American Thanksgiving), I had to bug out of the office during the annual holiday party because I couldn’t take all the jolly-ness. My husband and I went to the mall to do some shopping (this was pre-Internet shopping), and I started crying and told him I couldn’t do it. I let my college-age daughter handle the decorations, because I had no interest. But it does get better, you will find a way to manage in your new normal. And how wonderful that you have sweet Elliott as a marker on the circle of life! Do what you can, treat yourself gently, hold your family close during this time.

  109. A new notebook & pen can solve almost any problem!

    My heart goes out to you. It’s been years, but… My own mom went into the hospital the day after Thanksgiving and never came out. She died Christmas morning. Christmas hasn’t been the same since. I’ve cut back on many of the traditions we used to have, either because they were too painful to face or because they weren’t my favorites. These days, Christmas is just as manic, but in a more meaningful way.

    And as a warning – that first Christmas family dinner will be horribly wonderful. You’ll most likely sit around the table telling funny stories about your mom while crying your eyes out. Embrace the outpouring of emotion and accept, in advance, that all the photos will be of girls with mascara running down their faces. Hey – it’s a new tradition. 🙂

  110. You will do fine, and that little boy up there is wanting his Grama to be in all his memories of wonderful Christmases together. Believe me when I say the black hole will get smaller and the good memories will stay up front and you will find one day you wake up and the loss of your Mom is not the first thing you think about but in fact a wonderful memory of her is what is in your mind and you will smile.

  111. We lost my grandpa Dec 10 2012. We’d already lost my gran the week before my wedding in Nov 2011, and I was 7 month pregnant. My favourite aunt (and his youngest daughter) had about 3 months left to live (lost her 2 weeks before my daughter was born, 1 day after my birthday), and Christmas that year seemed like a total write off.

    It ended up being one of our best Christmas’s ever.

    We reminisced about the old days at the farm, about the various and sundry ways Gran and Grumps had traumatized 3 generations (probably 5, if you include their sibs and parents) and just enjoyed the time. If there were tears (who am I trying to kid?), they were mixed with a lot of laughter.

  112. The first Christmas after my dad died was also the first Christmas that my son-in-law would celebrate at our house. Then, the day they were arriving from 12 hours away, my husband got a call that his brother was very ill following what should have been a fairly routine, planned surgery. My husband stayed long enough to greet our daughter and son-in-law, then took off on the 4-1/2 hour drive to the hospital, only to find out during the drive his brother had died. The kids and I were standing in a grocery store when we got the news. Hubby continued the drive to say goodbye to his brother, then turned around and drove back home. It was awful — I barely remember it — but at least I had finished the Christmas stocking that my son-in-law picked out for me to knit, to join the other four of our family. The memorial service was held later, long after the holidays.

    Thank you for the reminder of doing things for the little ones. I didn’t do well when we celebrated our Christmas at Thanksgiving, but I’ll remember this next year when they are here at Christmas again and Sammy will be 3.

  113. It sounds as though a family meeting of you and your siblings is in order to create a new version of the holiday and share the work/joy between you.

  114. This is my first Christmas with both of my parents gone and not one member of my family present at Christmas. It sucks. It hurts. I’m angry. I’m sad. It’s also the first Christmas with our new-to-us preadoptive foster son in our home. He is moving in next tuesday. He’s 5 and believes in Santa and elves and Christmas magic. Did i cry putting up the tree? Yes. Did i laugh when I told him the worlds worst Santa joke that my mom taught me? Yes. Will it be hard to not see my family this Christmas- yes. Will i be starting a whole new set of traditions with my NEW family — YES. Squeeze Eliot tight and tell him about his amazing grandma and how you know about Christmas magic b/c of her…. and it’s now your job to teach HIM.

  115. Right before reading this I was looking through pictures on the computer looking for some old Christmas picture. What I found were pictures of my Mom, who passed in May 2015. They still make me laugh, and cry and smile and cry and ultimately I feel very thankful foe being luck enough to have had her for a Mom, a teacher and a mentor.
    I get how you are feeling which made me tear up again. Then I did a search for ice lanterns on your blog. As I read your various post about the season and thought of this post, I had a brilliant idea. You are great at Christmas and the season. Better than a certain Martha S. and you should totally write a book documenting your process your recipes and you celebrations – and you should dedicate it to your Mother.

  116. This is the transitional-traditional, because Elliot’s too little to remember. It’s not possible to let him down, and you’ll be dress-rehearsal figuring out what it will be. New grandma, new mum, new granddads and aunties — just as it used to be MAKE BLOG GO! the team will make Christmas go, and it will go on to more. Be sure to take pictures for us, lambie.

  117. Office supplies are an excellent first step. And Elliot’s going to love it all, because he’ll be warm, and the lights will be bright, and he’ll be surrounded by people trying to amuse him.

    He won’t even mind if some of y’all cry a little.

    Oh, you’re going through it all so bravely.

  118. We are in the same situation, although since your mum lived in the same town as you, I’m sure you saw her more often than I saw mine. My mum died on September 5 (I think you lost your mum on my birthday, August 31); we lived in different cities for the last 15 years but I saw her every time I got back home, at least 4-5 times a year. And this year I became a grandma, too. So you see what I mean about us being in the same situation!

    I won’t be able to see or talk to Mum this year and part of my heart is just crushed by that. But I’m trying to concentrate on the fact that she had 95 wonderful years on this planet, and she of all people would encourage us to live for today, not yesterday. We have to allow ourselves to feel the sadness, but isn’t it amazing that with these new grandchildren of ours, we get to have so much to look forward to now and in the days to come!

  119. A new normal … Not the same but include a lot of the same traditions cause Eliliot and your girls deserve that. And so do you..,

  120. Steph: for some it’s a new lipstick, for us it’s a pen and notebook. Nice to know someone else’s secret pleasure (ooh, the clean paper, the smell, the first pen to paper, ooohhh). and unless you splurge on a fountain pen (um, who, me???), it is cheaper than a nice lipstick.

    Sending a bunch of little hugs your way for you to take as you need.

    and I got “click on the folder” – folder, notebook, same idea

  121. I sympathize with you on so many levels. The first round of holidays without a loved one is so difficult.
    I live in Ventura, CA. We were evacuated last Monday night as the fire began it’s blast into the city. We are still evacuated with no return date in sight. So Christmas for us is also a challenge. There will be no tree, no outdoor lights, no baking and no hosting. But that is okay because there is still a house to return to eventually.
    You will start new traditions and I will go all out next year.

  122. Sometimes when traditions change, even though we didn’t want them to change, they move in a direction all their own. (Sometimes that’s the path of least resistance or fewest objections.) Though I can almost hear you laughing hysterically at this, letting go and seeing what the universe has in mind for holiday plans this year might not be the worst idea.

    But you have to do the ice lanterns, I think. You’re the first person I think of when someone mentions them.

  123. I would say that it gets easier but it doesn’t- the feelings just pass a little faster. I lost my dad 6 years ago-he loved Christmas and made it so special my entire life. I still can’t listen to certain Christmas songs without sobbing-but that circle of life goes on and now you’ll take the Grandma baton and run your leg of the race and be the blessing to your kids and grandkids that your mom was to you and yours.

  124. I just read through all your December posts from years past last weekend because they get me in the Christmas spirit (yes yes, silly tradition I know) and kept sending my very best hope in your general direction that it wouldn’t be too hard on you this Christmas. Glad you’re finding your way around what must be a very different season, and that you’re surrounded by loved ones.

  125. Our family has suffered a lot of tragedy and loss in the month of December. (My grandmother died a few days before Christmas, my father died 12 days before Christmas, a few thousand miles from home, my brother in law was killed a few weeks before Christmas). This is my advice. BREATHE. Sometimes that will be all you can do and that is okay – and if you have to stop and grab the back of a chair to support yourself in order to keep breathing – do it. SHARE. Don’t just think about meringues – remember that you made them for your mother’s party. Remember all the laughs and mishaps and togetherness that was your mother’s party. Don’t worry if the party doesn’t happen this year (maybe it won’t happen until next year, or the year after). LAUGH. It’s okay to laugh. It doesn’t mean you aren’t sad. It means the people you’ve lost made you happy. CRY. Not crying will give you a hell of a headache. Go ahead and cry. Hold other people while they cry. The crying will ebb, but not yet.
    HOLD THE BABY. I know you already know this – but the babies, in these times, are the elixir that we all need.
    Anything else, you fit where you can – and if you can’t, you do one of two things: 1) rely on the sympathies and love of the people around you who did not directly suffer this loss to support you in your time of need. Those people are there – and they love you – and they want to help – most fervently because they know that if it were their loss – you would be there to help them or 2) let it go, and go back to item 1, BREATHE.

  126. Everyone in the family worked to make it be Christmas the year after my mother died.. It wasn’t as good as her Christmas but it happened.. every year we built on that first one, adding and subtracting as we went along. My mother loved Christmas and i am happy that we kept that going.
    One foot in front of the other, you are doing all the right things. Crying and laughing allowed.

  127. Do whatever feels right in the moment. 🙂

    If you bake cookies great, if you reminisce over recipe cards even better. When one is moving through grief the definition of “productive” changes.


  128. It’s hard, the first Christmas mine was gone I wondered why I was going to make fudge, after all I made it for her. It turns out I also make it for my oldest son, it’s his favorite too so the tradition continues now it’s for him. Be kind and give that adorable baby many hugs and kisses.

  129. I don’t have time to read all of the comments, so I hope this isn’t redundant, but: I so feel for you and your family. The first Christmas After is always a very mixed emotional bag. But one thing I noticed in your post is that it appears that you think you have to do it all yourself. Wouldn’t this be a wonderful time to bring in your daughters and their families to help you plan and carry out the plan? I would think that would be extra consoling. Just a thought. Take care of yourself. You’re surrounded by love.

  130. One of the blessings of having a new baby in the family is it helps to soften the edges of grief to have those soft, warm cheeks to kiss and love. Give yourself a break. Maybe now is the time to start new traditions for Elliot. Stop to grieve when you need to but take the love that precious little one has to give to you and make it a Christmas to remember. Sending prayers of peace.

  131. What a marvelous and precious final gift she gave you, to turn the volume down on Christmas and turn that light up. Keep it bright, girl — YOU are the “Mum” now for your family.

  132. Oh! I would send you elves to keep you company through this if I could! That half hour grieving wasn’t lost, it was well spent. Grief is like the weather, you have no control over it really, and it always changes, and it is as it should be. Would it help to be gentle with yourself, and recruit helpers, and treat yourself the loving way she would have treated you? She raised an awesome tribe!

  133. Xmas doesn’t have one prescribed script. In our family, it’s always evolving, in part because of the passing of loved family members, but also because of the years we spent out of the country. Letting go of the feeling that you must do things certain ways can be liberating. Try to relax this season and just do what you feel like doing, not what you feel you have to do.

  134. Just last night, my breath caught and my heart fluttered when I found my mom’s snickerdoodle recipe, written in her handwriting. It is written on an old index card, stained and more than a little tattered. My mom has been gone 30 years and it still catches me. At first, I would stop and weep; maybe put the card away, because it was too painful to look at, let alone follow the recipe. However as time went on, I started making those snickerdoodle cookies and I could feel my mom right there in the kitchen, baking with me, like we did so many times. I made those cookies for her grandson and my nephew, who was born 3 months after she died. This year I am making them for my nephew’s son-her great-grandson. He just turned a year old and loves cookies! She is still with us, just as you mum is too. Yes, the holiday will be different and new traditions will develop. There will be periods of sadness and loss; it is important to let those times happen. The strong sense of family and what is important will stay the same. Many your family share much love and joy this holiday. Blessings to you alll….

  135. Your little guy was born at just the right time in your family’s life to help you transition to a different normal. He just can’t get any cuter.

  136. Girl give yourself a break. The first Thanksgiving after my mom died I decided to honor her and host. I ran across her recipe for stuffing, in her handwriting, and realized that I had actually never made it. My mom always brought it. After totally melting down, I decided to chuck it off the list. It worked for me at the time, and now that is my new tradition. Whoever comes brings stuffing. Please, give yourself time. Create new traditions. Get through it. Enjoy. We are all here for you..The Blog. Whatever you need, do it for yourself. You’ve got this.

  137. Elliot is a darling elf! Losing a parent is something you eventually get past but not over. And getting past might take a century. But you can bring your Mom to your special days but setting out some pictures of her and telling some stories of her so that Eliot and future grand babies will know her through you. Do what you want with traditions – keep some, toss some – just make sure the ones you want are good, happy ones rather than HAVE TO DO THIS tings. Then all the generations will feel the love you have for your mother. That’s how they will learn to process loss in their own lives or explain it to their littles. If we didn’t feel grief or long for past times, or cry over handwriting, we’d be pretty unfeeling human beings. That would be the polar opposite of who YOU are. Your heart will continue on being kind, funny and just the right thing for family and friends. You wait and see.

  138. Ehrmagerd, that photo! Blessed Eliot, he will help you through this Christmas. Lots of love to you and yours, with big hugs from Oklahoma.

  139. Everything is all effed up for a year or two when mom isn’t there. Go with it, cry, do what you need to do. Changes and new traditions will happen organically as it starts to hurt differently. (At least that’s how it’s working for me)

  140. Be kind and gentle to yourself..not all new traditions have to happen at once. Take this Christmas as it comes and note all the best things about it in your notebook…those could be your new traditions. <3
    That darling Elliot is quite simply perfect!
    Hugs and love.

  141. The holidays are so very hard when you’ve lost someone…especially someone who is the force in your family. It’s been two years since my dad passed and I put up the Christmas tree and decorate because it’s what me and my dad did even though I sleepwalk through most of the season in a daze. We just lost my MIL Thanksgiving weekend and my husband and his family are feeling the same. How do you go on with Christmas?! Take one step at a time and keep those you hold dear close because time isn’t always guaranteed. (((hugs)))

  142. This is it. Exactly My father passed on November 6, and this is my plan, as well. Do what I can, celebrate for my son’s sake, and somehow, get through. Thanks for the validation..

  143. I’m sure others have said this to you, you’ll figure it out. It may take a few years to sort out what to keep and what to add. The reconfiguration of family holiday gatherings is no small feat. Again, y’all will figure it out, and laugh about the things that didn’t quite work.

  144. That picture of Eliot is absolutely adorable! I saved it to my computer. It looks professional. Or is it just that he’s o so cute?
    Take it easy this holiday, enjoy the magic of the season as much as you can. Life is so precious.

  145. Our first Christmas after Grandma died, it all fell to me . . . and I did lots of things wrong. BUT we all gathered together, and we did the things that meant the most. I was desperately sad, but when I look back I am grateful for the opportunity to love on my loved ones, to celebrate with them, and to let them know how grateful I am for them!

    I hope your Christmas is filled with love as well!

  146. I agree with Dawn at 7:46pm-Be gentle and kind…
    I have remade and reshaped Christmas (and all that we celebrate this time of year) many times over into our new traditions which still have variants. Take it slow without too many expectations.
    Practically speaking FlyLady’s Holiday Control Journal can be a lifesaver of step by step walking through the holidays.

  147. Dear Steph, I will give you the advice that was given to me by a dear friend the first year I celebrated Christmas after my mother died. She suggested that I do not do what I had always done because I would find myself inadvertently comparing the celebrations and the loss would be accentuated. My friend was right–at least for the first year. I could never recreate what had been done before. It was an impossible task because I could never bring my mom back. I was so tired that year, exhausted with grief, exhausted from caring for my mother and my family, and exhausted from trying to put together a holiday celebration. Be kind to yourself and do what you would like to do. If you have the energy to make cookies, then make some. If you have a desire to make a special meal, then do it. If you want to knit something special, make the attempt. But if you feel overburdened, remember that you are putting these expectations on yourself. You have a wonderful family. Enjoy them. No one will remember what cookies you make this year, but they will remember the happy feeling they will have being with you. Give that sweet grandbaby an extra hug because he truly is the miracle that you have been given this Christmas! xoxox Big hugs!

  148. So, go forward any old way and make it fun for Elliot and Luis and Myrne. You are the Gramma now. Let your girls do all the middle generation things you used to do. Ask them which things they would like to take on and they will surprise you. And wear your mother’s shoes on Christmas so she will be there with you. I did. It helped. And love up the littles. Carry on those traditions that comfort you and end the ones that don’t. Remember that we love you out in blog-land. Don’t forget the Ice lanterns. Those are special for Solstice. Maybe one of the girls wants to make them.
    Love and hugs,
    Julie in San Diego

  149. My Mom died a week before Christmas 12 years ago. Needless to say I was numb but on the day before Christmas Eve I asked my husband and son to go get a tree. The beauty of it helped. Don’t remember much about that Christmas day except that we all ( 7 of my 8 siblings and their families) brought food and gifts to Mom and Dad’s house as usual, but nothing was usual. I do remember vividly a week after, when some of us were with Dad on New Years’ Eve seeing the lost look in his eyes when I wished him the obligatory “Happy New Year” and realizing how ridiculous a sentiment that was. Things will never be the same but the love is alive forever. Wishing you a Christmas filled with much love and peace.

    • Agreed. I remember my dear Mum watching my daughters trim the tree the year my darling Dad died and saying , through tears, “The love goes on, doesn’t it?” Now, she , herself, is gone – and the love still goes on.

  150. Right! Maybe this year, wing it and make some new traditions. And just as an aside, that photo of Elliot is my favorite so far- it makes me giggle that he looks like a mini lumberjack

  151. Steph: It’s now time to go forward and make Christmas a joyful one for all – including you. Only time will make the loss less painful – but there are lots of joyous memories to share and new ones to make. You are blessed to have little ones to fuss over – make the most of it!

  152. My dear Stephanie, again you have my sympathy for your loss. Inevitably there will be lots of bittersweet moments as you do things you would have done with your mum, taste the flavors you created and shared, and so on. Do exactly as you would like to do to make Christmas special for your new little grandson. You are the link between your mum and little Elliot as you celebrate in old ways and develop new ones. The Family continues. Peace, Love, and yes, Joy.

  153. If in doubt, buy stationery. It makes everything a bit better.

    And based on my own experience, I would say small goals and low expectations are key. I just thought of it as everyone coming over for dinner and that worked really well.

    I’m sorry for you and your family. This is tough. Glad you have Elliott.

  154. Maybe this year you won’t do any of the things you used to do with your mother; make some new traditions! Then, when you feel ready, you can reintroduce them. When my mother died, I spent the first Christmas with friends in France to get away from the memories. By the next Christmas I was ready to take out my mother’s ornaments and the Provençal crèche I’d bought her years ago. But it’s still my Christmas, not a reproduction of hers, and that’s OK.

  155. Hi Stephanie,
    The first one is the most difficult I know. It comes down to just getting through it really; pure survival. Cookies, presents etc. don’t matter really at such times. Your little grandson will feel loved and wonderful and you can perhaps come up with new traditions next year instead of worrying about it all. The tree is up, which is a big victory in itself. Be gentle with yourself and each other. Ask your family for their ideas and their help. You are right about it being all about the basics. Be together. Take care of each other. Take each day one by one. These are huge victories. That is all that is needed for now. The rest can come next year. Sending you and your family very sincere hugs and lots of love from afar.

  156. Dear Stephanie..I am crying big fat tears for you here.

    Just “Do” this year, don’t stress over what the traditions were. You will find a balance as you carry on, and perhaps you will gather in different places to see relatives that you only saw at your Mum’s. Maybe they will want to host this year. Let the season roll and enjoy each other making new traditions or tweaking old ones. Make the traditions easy to pass on to your children in the future. But have a Merry Christmas with your loving family.

  157. The year my brother passed away my mother was devastated. We made a family decision to go on with Christmas, with a twist . We purposely planned to do everything differently – Christmas dinner became lunch, church was skipped and we went out looking at Christmas lights instead, we didn’t go to family on Christmas day but stayed home and watched old movies. We couldn’t skip the holiday but didn’t spend the season comparing everything to we “usually” did. We were together when we could be and apart when one of us needed to be. Some things have returned to the way they were before and some haven’t..,it’s the new normal for our family. Give yourself the time you need to be apart from your family and when you are together , know they all care and want the best for you . It isn’t easy but you will survive

  158. Take it one day at a time and let it unfold as it will. Keep it simple and people will, hopefully, get everything together. This year will be the worst/first and each year the pattern will change as Elliot grows up. Let other friends and family help carry the weight. It will settle into a pattern. Love and hugs!

  159. You are such a beautiful person. Be gentle with yourself this year. Thank you for continuing on. Hopefully your writing is as cathartic for you as it is for many of your readers.

  160. My grandmother died on Christmas Day – I was away from home that year just after college so I didn’t feel the brunt of it but my mother has never got past it. As a result there have been no decorations or a tree or special seasonal baking in the house for more than 30 years. It has been thoroughly miserable with no thought for the living.
    Now I finally get to have Christmas in my own house and I have to fight with myself to make myself go all out. It feels like I’m frivolous or not allowed to have sparkle and joy. But it is so worth it.
    Life goes on and time will put your loss in a special place. This will be a tough year for you but it’ll pass, with or without plans. The people you love will be happy with anything you do. And don’t forget all the joy your lovely Mum gave you and taught you and that you pass on, not only to your family, but to people like me who have never met you but who love reading your column. Sending you love and light. Fil

    • While I am so sorry you had to endure the sadness of no celebration all those years, and am so very sorry for your Mom’s sadness and loss during such a joyful time of the year, I am thrilled that you are celebrating now and allowing yourself the gift of the season. You deserve the sparkle and joy, we all do! So good for you and Happy Holidays!

  161. Office supplies will never fail you.

    All you have to do is to knit together a little old, a little new. You know how to knit. It will be beautiful.

  162. Maybe just being there for Christmas is enough this year. Maybe you need to give yourself permission to let it go and let others shoulder the Christmas stuff. Elliot is too young to really know and you have many, many years to be the awesome Christmas Grandma that your mom was. Please know that in a way it does get easier, but it never goes away. For me, over time, there became a way of accepting it as part of the holiday celebration and discovering a family recipe in my mom’s handwriting or a goofy ornament my dad made now makes me smile, miss them, and accept that emotion and their loss. Wishing you find peace within to let the spirit of the holidays help you heal.

  163. That picture of Elliott is heart-catchingly adorable. Such a beautiful baby!

    Now. Whatever you do. Whatever you decide. The love that all the Christmas craziness chases after is all the stronger in the face of such an unfathomable loss, and however the expression of it turns out: you’re doing it right.

  164. Elliot is so precious it brings tears to the eyes. (: Everyone has offerred such beautifully worded comments and advice so I feel silly adding anything bu will say this: You are doing the right thing, putting one foot in front of the other and looking to give the kids a good Christmas with family traditions just as your Mom did. When my Mom passed away, my sister said the only way we can get through that first Christmas without her was to think what Mom would have wanted. She held Christmas to be THE holiday of the year and would have been horrified to think she might put any sort of damper on it. Since we all had young kids at the time we realized the best thing we could do was to make sure we give our kids the same awesome Christmas that she always gave us so we did that and made it through. Every year I spend time in memories of how wonderful our life was and how magical Christmas was and how every year I carry on the grand tradition and now our kids have great memories too and there is a 2 year old Grandson now so we can give him magic too. And on it goes. My thoughts are with you and wish for you a very warm and comforting family holiday.

  165. Sounds like this holiday is just going to be different! I can’t relate with the loss of a parent, but I had surgery in November and all of my holiday planning is off. I need another 5 weeks…. the ones I lost to the surgery and recovery. I started a mini spreadsheet to eliminate the thing I could (simple cookies: good, complicated ones: bad) Knitting? I think that’s just out the window for me… maybe notes in stockings with things I’ll make through out the year and then they get the handmade thing and I’m not stuck rushing (not happening) and I can get away from some of the winter items and make summer ones. I love your complicated spreadsheet. I’m going to consider making one for myself as my gift to me. I feel your displacement. I’m in it too. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. It’s helpful to know I’m not the only one who’s so far behind on the holidays this year.

  166. Thank you for sharing. The first holidays after the loss of a critical member of the family are the weirdest to navigate. I’m sending you a big fat west coast hug. Take care of yourself!!!!

  167. Just Keep Swimming. The flow is the pathway to get there, and fresh oxygen never hurt anybody. Life is a WIP. All My Best Wishes.

  168. New traditions will develop over time, organically, with input from all your loved ones. Take a step back. Try to loosen those shoulders. Enjoy that incredibly cute grandson. Fretting is counterproductive. Sending peace and joy your way.

  169. My deepest empathy for you, Stephanie. The first traditional holiday without a beloved parent is always tough. You’re good to be gentle with yourself at this time. Big hugs!

  170. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. For teaching us how to grieve; how to move forward after loss; how to laugh again when your heart is breaking. XOXOXO

  171. There are no “shoulds”. There is only what is possible and doable, and if doing it makes you feel bad, then you probably need to regroup and either abandon that tradition or plan for it next year. Of course you celebrate, of course you make it as lovely as you can, and of course you cry while doing much of it. That’s how it goes. We had to remake Christmas after divorce, and then again after my parents and sister died, and again after my husband died. Now there is just our nuclear family of three and really, every year is a small miracle that it gets pulled together somehow. I usually get a pre-Christmas flu, this year being no exception; and last year we all had to work on the holiday. This year, our water system broke down last week and it took my entire paycheque to repair it , so our Christmas this year will consist of celebrating the availability of running water instead of going to the Artesian well at the dock and filling up five-gallon storage jugs, and taking sponge baths instead of showers. In the end, it’s what you make of it, and it’s about keeping close to family and friends, however that works itself out. Blessings, dear Stephanie, and many thanks for the words of wisdom and inspiration you impart. It’s one of the things that keeps me going.

  172. Sorry I don’t have time to read all the comments before writing this, but here goes: This Christmas is one Christmas. It is the start of all the rest of the Christmases, but it is the building block, and your mother’s were the foundation. Someone wise once told me focus on 5 things for your wedding, and the rest will fall into place. Never took her up on her wisdom and never married. But it makes sense here. No one will have the energy to do all the details your mother used to do. She was a force and wasn’t grieving. Your family will do its best for the Elf Elliot as he is the future (and so adorable!). He won’t have any Christmases to compare this one to and will love all the lights and the colors and the family. Take 5 things that mean Christmas to you. Ask your family to help with them. If they have things they want to incorporate, then wonderful. If not, then wonderful, too. Next year will not be the first year without your mother, and your grief will be less new. That celebration can grow bigger. Or not. You might decide that you have your own holiday style.

    Thank you for the photos of Elliot. Some of my favorite holiday memories are your postings of taking Hank shopping and having hot chocolate. My family didn’t do things like that, and I got to experience them anyway. Will love the adventures with Elliot, too.

  173. Maybe this Christmas will still be about your mum, but in a different way. Maybe trying on her shoes and talking about what she did that you do or don’t want to continue are your activities for this year. You won’t be able to escape those moments, so maybe embrace them, just like the Blog wishes to embrace you.

  174. That is the cutest baby ever!!! I just love that picture! The first year of “firsts” is the hardest………..hang in there.

  175. Much love and gentleness to you and the family and FOR you and the family in this year of firsts. I believe your Mum taught you well and that may mean take care of you and the family in whatever way you can and the rest will slide gently into next Christmas. Squidges to Elliot and Erin and Sam and Meg and Joe and all the wonderful clan.

  176. As you can tell, the “firsts” are definitely the hardest. Deciding on new traditions (even one) is a good start, and having a new life – Elliot – celebrate his first Christmas is such a gift. Make/do/don’t do/whatever you want. You can’t do anything wrong in this situation; and don’t hesitate to ASK FOR HELP.
    Honor your mom at Christmas, then find joy in the family and friends who are around you. Tears are definitely ok!

  177. It’s going to be a tough Christmas. I’ve been there. But the solution to loss is never having had it in the first place, and that’s no solution. Keep moving forward – you’ll get through it. I feel for you. Loss of loved ones and babies seem to occur together-it must be the circle of life.

  178. My mom died 39 years ago on December 1st. I was 25 and totally lost. Now somehow I was the female in the family that needed to hold us together. All I knew for sure was my mother loved Christmas and it felt so wrong to abandon it. There were lots of tears and even some laughter. Most importantly I felt we honored my mom. It wasn’t with doing everything she did every year, but doing what we could and evolving into new traditions. I wish you love and joy in finding your way without your beloved mother during this season.

  179. Perhaps it shouldn’t just say Christmas. Perhaps it should say first Christmas of many with Mum watching and sharing!! There will be tears, there will be laughter and there will be her wonderful family working it out together.

  180. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing so candidly about your loss, this time of year, none of us are prepared to live our lives without our mother no matter what we tell ourselves. I still want to call, ask a question and then there is the dreaded void. Time does help with these ambush type grieving strikes, it doesn’t hurt any less, but hurts less often

  181. My husband lost his father this weekend and I’m into Day Five of being what our 8-year-old has dubbed “Mum-dy” – a Mommy-Daddy hybrid while my husband is in the next state over tending to his mum and his sister and his father’s last wishes. This is the first parent either of us has lost and I know he’s going to be coming home and seeing the gifts he’d already bought his father and that will be… hard. I realized today that my mother-in-law and I both “lost” our husbands on the same day because mine rushed out of the house the moment we got the phone call… The obvious major difference being that mine will be back at some point (well, and I can call or text him) but I’m doing all sorts of things I never do this week, like giving the cat her medicine and scooping her poop and getting the kids off to school and being there when they get home and… I miss him and I worry about what this Christmas will be like, with only my mother-in-law at the house, all of us grieving our lost “Papa.”

  182. Stephanie, I want so badly to write something that will ease your aching heart. There really are no words, but hopefully this will help.

    As long as you hold your mother’s memory dear and close in your heart, she will always be with you. In the wee small hours of the night, she will be there. In the frenzied rush of days, she will be there. Always.

  183. Our mother spent the run-up to Christmas in the hospital, came home Christmas Eve, and died the day after Christmas. Now I’m the matriarch, but have confounded the whole process because I don’t celebrate holidays.

    But office supplies are always a good place to start. I wish you a season of peace and comfort.

    And I get to touch the cat to prove I’m human. Somehow, that’s perfect.

  184. I’m so sorry, Steph. My father died on Rosh Hashonah and next week is their anniversary. I know that Christmas is different; we’re feeling it too.

  185. needed tissues to get through this post. my mom is aging, and i know my time is coming to deal with this as well, and i hope i can do it with half the grace and dignity you’re doing it with. thanks for sharing this, as tough as it sounds; hopefully “the blog” can take just a tiny bit of that grief off your hands, and help lighten your load.

  186. Touched by your post. Sending hugs your way.
    I hope I could do something practical to help but the hugs and live sent your way will have to do.

  187. I have not commented on your blog before…but looked at it tonight…as I always love reading about how behind you are on your spreadsheets (as it makes me feel better about my procrastination) and so opened your blog, knowing that your lovely mom had died, and wondering what would happen this year. What an inspiration she (and you have been) over the years…and what a wonderful family, and traditions you have created. I’m glad a wee little human has created a little spark for you to be inspired by…as you know…from a small spark a fire will grow…and with time you will feel whole again, with warm memories of your mother where sorrow sits now.

  188. So, I am sitting here at work, eating lunch and reading old Harlot posts, as is my wont, since my favorite bloggers aren’t posting twice a day as requested. I believe it was December 2004 I was perusing. I did manage to giggle uncontrollably-yet-silently, so as not to disturb my hard-working colleagues, and I am thereby resolved to knit everyone and random strangers on the street Christmas presents next year whether they like it or not, because there is nothing like the addictive obsession of Must! Finish! to bring cheer to the holiday season. (Also a good excuse to drink more.) It’s all your fault, and I love you for it.

  189. “It’s Elliot’s first Christmas, and this family is so, so good at Christmas – in no small part because my mum was such a wonderful grandmother, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I owe him the same… and not just a token Christmas, a really lovely one. To somehow figure out new traditions – new ways of doing things.”

    Yeah. Becoming an Elder sucks. Your mom probably had to confront the same sort of thing at some point. She managed. You’ll do a good job of it, I’m sure. 🙂

  190. Hugs and love to you and your family as you approach this first holiday season without the person that makes it so special. When the person that you lose is the glue that holds the family bonds together, their lost is felt so greatly. I remember the first several Christmases without my mother, and how painful and difficult that they were. And yet, the desire to celebrate Christmas in some way — we found that we did Christmas somewhat differently because some of our traditions were just too painful at first. It made me look for the joy in the simple things at Christmas, whether that was within my family or helping others outside our circle that also didn’t have happiness in their lives at Christmas. That’s what brought me joy and comfort in those first years and it has made me appreciate the true meaning of Christmas ever since. Peace and love to you.

  191. I was pondering what your mum was feeling about her first grandchild’s first Christmas and all that she wanted them to experience.
    And then I had to laugh because your mum would know when Meg announced she was pregnant, she knew what the first grandchild’s first holiday season entailed and she knew it would involve yet another spreadsheet for you…in addition to your other spreadsheets. I imagine at some point she would hand you batteries for your smoke detector and have to caution you to switch away from wooden needles given the speed you would have to knit to meet your spreadsheet goals.
    This holiday will be wonderful because it will be Elliot’s first and he will be surrounded by love.
    A gift Joe can help out with is scanning your mum’s recipes and binding them or finding facsimile recipe boxes to gift the bundle to her children and grandchildren.
    There is so much of US that remains in our handwriting. I know of a few friends that carry grocery lists because it was the last thing their beloved ones wrote.
    You better make meringues…your mum will be there with you…all of you…your love for one another is a magnet for the one that shared that gift with you first.
    Blessings for you and yours.

  192. The one thing you and yours know how to do and do so well is bring the love. The rest is gravy. Much love and peace to you all this season.

  193. Steph,
    Stop “trying to get Christmas together”. Just let happen what will happen. And that is all.
    It is all you can do now. Don’t force this or make it into something it is not.


  194. Lots of love and luck to you for this Christmas. Reading your posts makes me well up, I feel for you completely, this is our first holiday without my dad and possibly one of the last we might have with my mum (sudden cancer). It is really, really hard. I am not feeling at all festive. But I am trying to take things one day at a time and I think it’s the only way to go. So much sympathy to you and I hope that your Christmas with your lovely family still brings you joy alongside the heartbreak. Much love to you and yours.

  195. A year and a half ago, my mom passed away. She was the one who would always start in September to ask How are we doing Thanksgiving? And then at Thanksgiving to ask When are we doing Christmas? My three siblings and I ended up avoiding bigger Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt so disconnected. My dad passed away last month, and I’m still trying to process that. But we can’t go without bigger Christmas again. It will happen in January, though.
    I must add that small independent knit shop owners are the best. I don’t break down in front of my family, (I have to be strong you know), but she said, I haven’t seen you in a while, are you alright? and in two seconds I was a sobbing mess, crying on her shoulder. I paid for my wool and left pretty quick, but felt so much better.

  196. Babies are hope in warm cuddly bodies.
    My grandma died the week before Christmas over 30 years ago. My mother died Thanksgiving week 3 yrs ago. Sympathy to you and yours. Next year will be different. Light a candle for Mom.

  197. Babies are hope in warm cuddly bodies.
    My grandma died the week before Christmas over 30 years ago. My mother died Thanksgiving week 3 yrs ago. Sympathy to you and yours. Next year will be different. Light a candle for Mom.

  198. I lost both my parents at Christmas time. Not the same year though…. it is hard. Hard hard. But as time passes you will remember with laughter, not tears. Just be easy on yourself. If you do not feel like doing something don’t. It’s ok.

  199. Fifteen years ago, a week before Xmas, one day before my birthday my mother died. She was taken to hospital a few weeks before, and by then we knew she will not live long, still it hit me, like a tank going… Well actually I cried in the hospital, and then collected myself, because.. just because and that is a long story I will not get into it. Anyway, as just a couple of days before Xmas, I was at the market, trying to put together the food-shopping (which I just could not deal with until then, but I had a small child, and a husband who expected a full Xmas)… and for some unknown reason I picked up… a full duck to roast (instead of a turkey) on Xmas day… Right, but I never cooked a duck, much less a full roasted one… so I picked my cell-phone out of my pocket, and dialled my mom, to ask just what would be the right approach…It took me a few trial to realize why the call does not go true, and then at the middle of the market I broke down. In a bad way. My tears were falling, and all I could muster to run out of the building and hide/sit in the little playground behind the X-mas tree selling stalls… wailing. Like an animal.
    I know it hurts, and I know you want to do what is best for the family… but you already said how great your daughters were in the hardest time, why don’t you let them help? They are all grown ups, I bet they would love to pitch in, I bet they have some ideas for new traditions… Hang in there. Xmas spirit will come. Just look at that sweet little grandson of yours.

  200. You’re not alone and embrace your grief. It will never leave you but it will change and cycle. And that picture of Elliot is a greeting card in the making!

  201. I have found that in grieving it helps to say that person’s name often. I don’t know if that will help you but it helped me. I put a picture of my mom in a little Christmas tree frame ornament and her picture hangs on the tree every year. It’s been 15 years last September

    I have gone back in time and started reading your blog from the very beginning. It helps with the in between times when there isn’t a new post. Right now, you are on your first book tour in Memphis. As a Southern woman, it is 60 degrees F. and sunny today. I am barefoot and in short sleeves.

    I’m a fairly new knitter of five years serious but I learned over 40 years ago, slow as molasses but this year I’ve completed six pairs socks, three baby surprise sweaters, 22 hats and two pairs of slippers. I hate hats, love socks.

    I’m going to Oregon for the Christmas holidays and I have a budget and an empty suitcase for the yarn I am going to buy. Last year, the postal service shipped all my yarn and I used the last of it this month.

    Your blog means a lot to me. I laughed and snorted tea out my nose on the post when Elliot was born and you couldn’t get anything done because his feet were cold. I always check your blog first to see if there are any new posts. I’m going to knit sweaters for my grandsons for Christmas next year. I hope so anyway.

    I’m sorry for your loss of your mom. Grief changes over time–wider deeper narrower shorter longer but it never truly goes away. But it does get easier, I promise. Have a Merry Christmas

  202. Not sure if this is helpful or not, but our local NPR station just did a show (12/14) on loss during the holiday season. It was on the same day I read your post, and thought that it could be helpful. A link to the show is here http://digital.vpr.net/post/how-talk-about-loss-during-holidays. Not sure if it is helpful, but I can imagine how difficult it can be while trying to mourn and simultaneously trying to celebrate the holiday. I hope you can find some happiness this year!

  203. Dear Stephanie,
    I know you can’t possibly read ALL your comments – you get so many and you are so dearly loved by knitters. I am one of those knitters and just recently caught back of with your blog after a few years of being away. I guess I missed the fact your mom has left this earth … I am so sorry. My mom died at Christmas 2014 – and Christmas has been hard since then. But like you, a new family member is coming. I will be a Grandmother for the first time in February 2018. It does help to have new life, bright shiny eyes, and a toothless smile to share it all with. My heart aches for you as you pass this holiday anniversary. But focus on the bright spots – like the dear little face with the chubby cheeks. Merry Christmas, from an admirer who is just getting back to your blog.

  204. I think your new notebook should be a description of what you do this year. with a new pen. Then you can look at that in a few months and think of what you want Elliot’s Christmas memories to be like. You are Queen now…
    and also, scan or photograph those recipes and cards in your mum’s writing so they are preserved for everyone.

  205. Good for you. Thank you for sharing your honesty, and kindness and hope with the blog. I’m really lousy at not sounding trite at times like this. Just, thank you. I hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas.

  206. Dear Steph I’m so sorry that you are in grief and have lost your mum. You are doing all the right things and the best you can do with what life gives. Eliot wouldn’t mind Chinese Takeaway food as long as everyone he loves is there. New traditions will come when they come. Having the greatest fortune to have alive people to spend the day together is so special for me and I will appreciate that with all my heart. There will be lots missing and bad memories but I will stay in the moment bitby bit. “Yes little me” I will tell myself, “that memory does hurt. I love you. Hug someone and lets enjoy that cake!” Maybe that notebook can be a journal too. You can promise yourself to carefully read it later, giving yourself your full support and being heard. I hope everyone here on the blog has the best day possible for them.xox

  207. Holidays are painful after our loved ones pass. No way around it. Your mom had such a great perspective that you’ll remember her in many thoughts and tears. I’m sure you’ll your family as much as possible. I will think of your moms comment often. Happy Christmas

  208. Many cultures explicitly realize that the first year was the most difficult. There is good reason for that. So many firsts.

    You are now the matriarch, but that does not mean replacing your mother and doing everything she did. You can’t succeed and you shouldn’t try.

    The family (writ large) will work out new ways and new traditions. Some of the old ways will be left behind.

    Don’t exhaust yourself. Breath in, breath out. One foot in front of the other foot.

    Christmas will come. Every year. Just as it has in the past.


  209. Dear Stephanie, sweet one. I think you ARE doing Christmas for you this year. I think that it is normal to be frequently swamped by a wave…or warmed by a memory. I have lost my parents now, and my inlaws, and I miss them when I am baking tings they would have sent us, or that we would have shared over tea… or a Scrabble game. So many words are left unsaid, but you can say them now and show your family what love looks like at Christmas. It is ok for it to just be you.

    Love, and hugs, Kathleen B. from Vermont

  210. Lost my gentle mother six years ago. Everyday I think of her and even more so at Christmas. I felt the same as you putting up the tree alone (took me forever just to get into the mood, I procrastinated the best I could). The songs, the food the music. Yet I can be content many others have pass this year and she will be in good company. I was so sorry to read about your Mom this past September. I will look forward to seeing you at Madrona in Tacoma ~ Merry Christmas

  211. Elliot is an excellent reason to make new traditions! The most helpful book I read after my little brother died way too young is called The Other Side of Sadness by George A. Bonanno. One of the things he says is that grieving is the process of figuring out how to make life work with the new hole. I like to think of it as turning a nice solid knit into lace after the fact. It’s hard and it sucks, but you’re good at lace and you’ll get there.

  212. Eliminate anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done. Just because you don’t do something doesn’t mean that you won’t do it next year. Your mother knows how hard this is right now. Allow your people to comfort you.

  213. A friend was widowed at 30 just a few days before Christmas. Her grief was incomprehensible. In an effort to work through it, she wrote a book about it.
    I read it right after my much-beloved mother in law passed away, and it was so helpful, particularly understanding that all grief is different, there is no right or wrong way, and you do what you need to, not what you’re ‘supposed’ to.

    Best wishes.

  214. You can’t plan for grief. You will find new ways for your family to celebrate. I had emergency surgery and have had to cancel what I usually do. I’m going to rest this Christmas.

  215. Your post has inspired me to get off my arse and get a tree (maybe and assuming they’re not sold out).

    My mother was found collapsed with a multi-focal stroke just before (American) Thanksgiving and I’ve not bought or mailed a single Christmas card, nor have I put up a single decoration, and the only present I’ve bought since the stroke was for my mom, in case she magically is alert on Christmas day. She didn’t do appropriate medical power of attorney paperwork so everything’s been a mess, and I’ve had to really hound the terrible nursing home she’s in, as they’ve been sloppy about many things. This year my beloved dog also died and I ended a 5 year relationship (and the break up was made very ugly by my ex), so my words for 2017 are best not written on your blog.

    I’m lucky in that my friends have been absolutely wonderful and I was more financially prepared than normal due to some freak good luck/timing. But still. I’m so emotionally done. It’s like I don’t have energy to have strong feelings. I’m not depressed just tired. I keep wanting to be excited about Christmas and then it just seems like too much work on top of the work of trying to manage my mother’s life (bills, elderly pets, etc.).

    I’m not sure why I’ve told you all this. I suppose I’m just completely done with 2017 (as I imagine you are too). Your blog is always a comfort in difficult times so thank you for keeping on with it.

    I think I’m going to get incredibly drunk on New Year’s Eve for the first time in a decade.

  216. Right.

    All light and love to you and yours this holiday season. Find your way with love and gentleness. You’ll figure out the best way to honor your dear Mum, because you have a good and open heart.

    xxoo, Jen

  217. inspired by your many lovely posts related to the winter solstice, I’ve developed my own rituals and observations. So I always think of you on solstice night and wish you happiness. I hope this year that you find peace and comfort in your traditions. May your mother’s wonderful spirit reassure you and may your own indomnible spirit see you through. Blessings and happiness to you for Christmas.

  218. Gentle is the season and love continues to flow – from your mother through you to your girls and to the rest of the family. Do only what you want and/or need to do. This year the knitting will wait. The people will be the most important. Wishing you the blessings of all the universe especially including peace, strength and courage. Much love from me as well!

  219. Yes, please be gentle with yourself. Mourning is a big job and takes lots of energy. Don’t forget that it is taking up a lot of Christmas space this year. But being with your people and remembering your mom with them is good. Doing Christmas is good, and it doesn’t need to be the full-on, regular year production. You can do that next year if you decide you’d like to. This year, take it gently. Wishing you a good and loving Christmas.

  220. Thank you for the reminder to focus on what we HAVE not what we want. It was a slim Christmas this year, and it was a struggle, but there was so much to be grateful for.

  221. I too go on and on about knitting. After 18 years I still think to myself, sometimes, gee mom would have liked that or I have to tell mom about that. So it does stay with you forever but stops hurting so strongly. It is a soft comfortable feeling knowing she is there for you to talk to. I hope you had a merry Christmas. We did. I enjoy your thoughts on paper. Stay positive. You will see her again. This I can promise you. Take care, hug your babies and smile. Linda

  222. Hi Steph – So one thing that you might enjoy – is having those recipe cards in your Mom’s handwriting copied and laminated. We did this and gave them to friends at my Mom’s memorial service – I like the idea that a little piece of my Mom would be going out into the world with people who loved her. And maybe they’d think of her when they made the cookies. We are still going through her things and we will likely have all of her recipes copied/laminated so that all of her children, children-in-law, grand children, etc. can have copies. Happy New Year!

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