🎵 It's the most wonderful time of the year... Isn't it?
Christmas has arrived at the Robinson household. Molly and I have decorated the tree, her elf has made his way from Lapland to cause all sorts of mischief and her advent calendar has been started, but its a tale of two halves for us with it being another first that we're facing without Lauren. But, if I've learnt anything so far it's that no matter how hard these things are, it is possible to find moments of joy and that it's okay to smile.
Our family tradition was to always get the Christmas decorations up on (or as close as possible) to the 1st December and I was determined that this year wouldn't be any different and with it being a Tuesday, it was the perfect opportunity to face some of the more challenging parts alone with Molly being at school.
We have been one of those families that marks the festive period with a new ceramic personalised decoration and have done since 2012. So I anticipated that this would be a tough box to open and I wasn't wrong. But, it was actually the unexpected bits that bought me to tears. The things that I'd forgotten we had, or decorations that had a little story to their arrival at our house, normally that Lauren and I differed in taste on something but she would always win and they'd be purchased. I've always loved the festive period, but, Christmas was Lauren's thing, she was mad for it. Not just for the presents, but everything the season had to offer, the decorations, cosy nights snuggled with a Christmas film, warm cider, Christmas markets, visits to Santa, the pantomime and pretty much anything Christmas related would bring a smile to her face.
I've been dreading the arrival of December, the whole month will be a reminder of the void in our lives that cannot be filled. Not to mention Molly's birthday is in December too and it pains me no end that she'll not have her Mum for another birthday or Christmas. I've said a number of times over recent weeks that if it was up to me Christmas would just disappear. But...
I had a word with myself and...
Not only would I have never forgiven myself if I'd allowed this Christmas to be any less than usual for Molly, but, I've also been learning over the last 4 months that life is going to be hard now, but, that it's still possible to find moments of joy through the pain. We did it on Lauren's birthday, we did it on our first holiday without her and so far we've survived those times and actually come away from them saying... 'yeah' they were difficult, 'yeah' it hurt to not have her with us, 'yeah' we cried a lot of tears, but, 'yeah' we also had a really nice time. So, I don't see that Christmas is going to be any different and thinking like that has been enough for me to power through get the decorations out and kick off the festive period exactly how I mean to go on.
Some special mentions to Belles, Bows & Buttons and Mrs Larter Makes for our Memory Bauble Tree and Personalised Baubles (respectively) that they gifted us. If you're interested in these both ladies can be found on facebook.
I'll still go at my own pace though.
There are parts of Lauren's ideal Christmas that haven't and won't happen this year, but that's okay too. As long as Molly is happy and we celebrate then that's what really matters and I'll do my best to find ways to remember Lauren with Molly in as positive a manner as we can. The world keeps moving around us, so each day I move with it I feel proud and I just vary the pace at which I move with it whilst I still take each day as it comes and am not in control of how I might feel on any given day. If you want my top tip for what I think will get me through this year, it'll be focusing on things that are bigger than my grief. Molly is absolutely my number one and has lost enough so I could never cost her a Christmas too. But, I also think a lot about Lauren's Mum, Dad and Sister. Whilst I would never say that anybodies loss is bigger or smaller than anyone elses, in terms of the impact on our daily lives they are second only to Molly and I on that front. Lauren would call them all daily, we'd see them every week, often a couple of times a week. So I decided early on that we would spend our Christmas with them this year. Hopefully having Molly with them will help them to find moments of joy this Christmas too (this girl is a real life hero and she doesn't even know it). Supporting them through their grief often helps to give me strength and although I don't want to suppress my own feelings, I find focusing on others gives me a bit of relief from my own pain.
With all that said and with all the adversity surrounding us however we get to celebrate Christmas this year, do your best to create memories, embrace your family and hold on to happiness.
Here's a song I found last Christmas that feels really relevant this year. I'll certainly be raising a toast to my beautiful wife at Christmas dinner this year.
Thanks for reading and being a part of our journey!