I can’t tell you how much I am dreading the holidays. Frankly, I wish I could just take the calendar and flip it to January.
The reason: This will be my first holiday season without my mother. Not only that, but her birthday is the day after Christmas. I dread approaching each special day without her by my side and without the traditions we always shared.
I have interviewed so many people around the holidays about what it is like to lose someone important in their lives during this time of year. I specifically remember the soldier’s family who still set a place for their son at their Thanksgiving table even after he died. I also remember the family of a murder victim who retreated to a remote cabin at Christmas in order to commemorate their loss in private away from the glare of the public eye.
And while I hope that I was compassionate as I told these stories, I now know that I really didn’t understand what they were going through, because I couldn’t.
I ran into a friend from church at the grocery store the other day as I was going through an ornament display contemplating how I might tie them onto the handles of gift bags. She came up behind me and commented on how she couldn’t believe that I was already thinking about Christmas. I whipped around and proceeded to tell her just how much I hate Christmas.
The truth is that I don’t really hate Christmas. I hate that I will have to spend it this year without my mother. This notion still seems very surreal to me. Not doing the holidays is not an option when you have children, so I will somehow soldier through the turkey, the decorating, the cards, the parades, the pageant, the gifts, the gatherings and so on.
But not a minute will pass on these days when I don’t think of her. Hopefully, each year will get a little less painful.
So, pardon me this year if I come across like a Scrooge. It’s not personal. It’s just where I am at this moment, and there’s no amount of eggnog or twinkling lights that’s going to turn it around.
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.