It's going to be a strange Christmas this year. The routine will be a little off. There will be an obvious spot at the table as our family comes together for only the second time since my Dad died.
I've been wrapping presents. I'm a gift bag hoarder and use and reuse gift bags until they are practically see through. So as I'm relabeling these bags I'm coming across so many of them that say "to Jean from Mom and Dad" or "to Emily from Nana and Papa" and it occurs to me that none of the tags will say that this year. And it's stupid but I almost don't want to take those tags off, like I'm preserving the memory of the last gift my Dad gave me or the kids.
It's very similar to the blow I felt when I read Sean's birthday card. It said "love Mom C" and though my dad was still alive, she knew (we all knew) it wouldn't be long (two more days in fact) and I guess she just couldn't bring herself to sign his name.
My mom got a Christmas card last week while she was out of town. Just between you, me and the lamppost, I didn't give it to her. It was from a neighbour. She wrote in it "To Lyn and Jim"
We laughed about that last Christmas when she got my dad's name wrong. This year though it wasn't so funny. Sean and I decided to throw the card out...partly because they didn't get his name right but also because they obviously didn't even know he passed away. Had his name been right, I may have just left it there for her but it was almost like a double whammy and I didn't want something that is intended to make someone happy to bring her down.
Of course, after I threw it out I second guessed myself. But then when mom came home there was a card from the Palliative Care team at the hospital and she barely got through the first sentence before breaking down. I knew I'd made the right choice.
I did drop a note along with my Christmas card letting the neighbour know that my dad passed away. At least we won't have the same issue next year.
But it's not all sadness and gloom around here. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year and yes it will be different and I'm sure it will be hard for my mom...but I also know my dad wouldn't want us sitting around feeling shitty and spoiling Christmas for ourselves, or more importantly for the kids.
So we will celebrate this Christmas just like any other but with a new tradition. A toast to Dad.