Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Feelings

Street lightning christmas decorations Bokeh 7

I just returned home for an early Christmas celebration with my extended family. This is somewhat of a novelty, and we now live close enough to be a part of these type of celebrations on a regular basis. I had a good time, and love my family, but I did need to get in the right type of space to handle it.

Earlier in the week I wrote about this on my personal blog. It is always difficult being around my family because each of my brothers have been blessed with very long marriages. While I enjoy all of their company, I can't help but be reminded by them of what I no longer have. I usually try to keep my visits brief, as too much time together seems to drain me emotionally.

Driving over there the kids and I were listening to Christmas music on the radio. We were having a good time, then suddenly Michael's favorite Christmas song came on. Immediately my daughter looked to me, and we fell silent. By the end of the song we were both in tears, and she had her arm around me while I tried to keep focused on my driving.

Throughout the day there was a lot of laughter, and a lot of sharing stories. Comments were made by everyone about how happy they were, or how blessed they have been this year. Each time I would hear this I felt myself pulling away. Eventually I would find myself sitting off to the side, needing to take some space. While I had anticipated this, and prepared for this, I didn't think to prepare the kids for this. On the way back home to San Diego, my daughter began talking about how hard it was to hear these conversations, with me sitting there, not feeling quite as blessed. She felt angry that my family was being insensitive, and felt like she should have said something.

Soon into this conversation my daughter was in tears, really feeling her grief. She spoke of how much she misses Michael, and how others don't seem to get this. She talked about her anger that we had him in our lives for only such a short time, and how others around us seem to bask in their good fortune, while we sit there feeling hurt. Soon the boys jumped into the conversation, and it went in many directions. They spoke of their birth mother, and how she had died before they could ever meet her. There was so much emotion in the car, which led to quite a deep conversation about how they judge the quality of our life as a family.

In the end we agreed that we needed to appreciate the blessing we have, and at the same time feel fine about our anger. We need to be proud of our accomplishments, even if they don't compare to those around us. Our life as a family, and the lives that my children have lived, has been a difficult one, yet we survive. I reminded them of how proud I am of them, and given the hardships that they have had to face, they, we, are doing just fine.

May each of you feel comforted during this holiday season.


  1. and I am proud of you for being such a wonderful father, Dan xx

  2. Bravo! I couldn't have said this better as I prepare for my first Christmas without my husband. I am positive my children and I will have the same exact experience when we get together with my siblings and their spouses and children on Christmas day. I try to tell people how blessed I feel for friends and family, but inwardly that isn't always the way I feel. I so very much appreciate your raw honesty and am here to tell you that you should be incredibly proud of your accomplishments and those of your children.

  3. I hope that, even though painful, your conversation with your kids gave you some comfort or strength, bringing you closer together.

    I feel the same way. This is my first Christmas without Chris and it is so hard to be around other people who haven't lost the love of their lives. I feel bad, but every Christmas card I get where people talk about how blessed they are, I throw in the trash.

    I don't want to be bitter and resentful, but I am. I never really compared my life to others, but I do now. It is a constant struggle to acknowledge, but not let these emotions consume me.

    Hoping you feel more comforted and blessed

  4. Thank you for sharing and your honesty. I feel the same way too. I am thankful for much but at the same time hurt and angry and what makes it all the harder is immediate family - because they have not experienced such pain and grief they really don't "get it" and as much as I love them and appreciate them, it's just not the same relationship you once had with your spouse and now I miss so very much and its all emphasized on the holidays.

    Peace and comfort to all us, we understand each other.

  5. Some people are luckily naive. I was reminded of this when I went to a Christmas party last weekend. One conversation was about how one guys paint job on his car will never be the same since the car wash scratched it. Another person was complaining about the wait time at her doctors office. These are the big worries in their lives...they might as well hit the lottery as far as I was concerned. People just don't understand. I promised myself to always concentrate on the things that are good in my life and to never be that shallow.

  6. Here are the reasons I do not visit my extended family for holidays. Almost three years now and still can't do it and won't.
    Not sure I will ever be able to.

  7. Dan, I think we just have to understand that people who have not lived through this will just not get it. Not fair, but true. when my husband was alive he hated those happy xmas letters- to him they were not a true measure of people's lives. This year our xmas card consisted of the three of us, the cat and a life sized cardboard cut out of my husband wearing a xmas hat- saying guess who back for xmas. the Inside read- take that you happy xmas cards. It was sent to only those who would gett the joke. The card to me was similiar to the card my husband wanted to sent in response to those happy letters that nwver consodered how this might make other people feel. he always wanted to do a letter that contained the troubles in our life, besides the trumiphs.