Christmas is a time when thoughts of parents who have passed tend to come flooding back. I guess this is because it’s a time of year which is very family orientated and parent-child relationships are very much in the limelight.
This will be the sixth Christmas since I had both Mother and Father and the fifth since I had neither of them. I was very, very, very fortunate to have been able to spend over 50 Christmases with them ~ and there was only one when I was away from home for Christmas Day.
The Christmases we spent together were always quiet with lots of little traditions built up over the years. In hindsight, I realise the extent to which Mother was key to maintaining most of these traditions ~ pretty much everything down to the timing of when we ate to when we exchanged presents.
I certainly don’t have any simple answers for people wondering how to cope with their first Christmas after the death of their parents. If there were strong bonds, it’s more or less inevitable that there will be a sense of emptiness and floundering. The old traditions just don’t feel quite right but new ones don’t feel quite right either.
The best advice I can offer is to make every effort to adhere to some of the old traditions but also to seek to introduce something totally new. My something ‘totally new’ last year was to skip the traditional Christmas Dinner altogether. It worked out really well as we got to spend what was a lovely sunny day out in the fresh sea air.
There is also a lot to be said for embracing the heightened memories, even if they draw tears, rather than trying to drown them out. These memories are part of what we are as grown-up children and I, for one, am glad that my parents shared their memories of their parents with me around Christmas time.
What prompted me to write this post today was a friendly robin perching near me as I did some pre-Christmas gardening. It reminded me so strongly of how my father loved being in the garden at this time of year because of the robins. Need I say any more about continuities …..?
If you’ve experienced Christmases after the death of your parents, how have you coped?