Christmas and Grief: Creating New Traditions

This will be my second Christmas without my life mate/soul mate. I didn’t expect it to be a problem since we never celebrated Christmas as such. But, since it was a day with no mail, no open stores, no reason to do any of our daily activites, we’d fix plates of finger foods — meat, cheese, crackers, apples, carrots — and watch movies all day. It wasn’t until after he died that I realized our non-celebration had become a traditon.

I don’t like watching movies by myself. Without his enjoyment sparking mine, the movies seem flat and uninspired. Apparently whatever energy we generated between us brightened the story and made it personal, as if we were part of it or it was part of us. Now he is gone. That extra energy is gone. The tradition is gone. And I am all that’s left of our shared Christmases.

I never understood the point of traditions. Traditions seemed to be customs people blindly followed long after they’d forgotten the reason for the rituals and, since I have a very hard time dealing with pointlessness, I seldom followed traditions. (Hence my surprise at discovering that we had created a Christmas tradition after all.) Now, however, I do see the point. The point is continuity, connection, comfort. Life can be cold and cruel and desperately lonely. We need something to hold on to, and tradition gives us something to grasp when everything we hold dear has disappeared. Somehow, I will need to create new traditions, if only for myself.

My life mate/soul mate always loved Christmas lights, so last Christmas Eve, I took him for a walk. (He still lives in my heart, and that is the “him” I took walking.) I walked around the neighborhood viewing the lights, not just taking a cursory look as is my wont, but appreciating every scene, every effort the neighbors had put into their vignettes as he would have done. (He was an appreciator. I’d never known anyone who could appreciate every nuance the way he used to.) And tonight — Christmas Eve — I did it again. Walked around the neighborhood. Appreciated the artificial lights and the natural lights above. (Lots of stars tonight!) From such simple beginnings, new traditions are created.

Merry Christmas, compadre, wherever you are.

9 Responses to “Christmas and Grief: Creating New Traditions”

  1. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    …and i wrote a poem…one of our traditions….and shared it with him…who died the same day your soul mate died. …yes, traditions are our way of holding on to that special someone….

  2. mjray926 Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know it must be tough around the holidays. But cheers to you for trying to change things, and not stay in a rut. I wish you a very merry Christmas, and bright beginnings!
    -Ray

  3. Online Affiliates Says:

    Really enjoyed reading your post today. You have a wonderful blog here. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Donna B. Russell Says:

    Pat, what a beautiful post. Traditions blindly followed can become meaningless, but the ones we create for ourselves become a part of us. And, as you said, they provide continuity, connection, and comfort. What a lovely memory of your husband being an appreciator, and equally lovely that you are carrying on the “tradition” of enjoying the Christmas lights. You will create new traditions, yes; but it’s good to be able to carry some old ones with you, too. I hope you have a merry Christmas, and know that I’m thinking of you.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Donna. He really was an appreciator. For example, I’d read a Calvin and Hobbes book in about a half and hour, just reading the words and barely glancing at the pictures. He would take days, really looking at each frame of the comic. I hate for that appreciation to be gone from here.

  5. joylene Says:

    Thinking of you, Pat. Sending good wishes.

  6. Cathy "Elaine Garverick" Gingrich Says:

    Merry Christmas, Pat, Things here in St. Peter are warm and sunny…nothing like the frosty, snowy Christmases of my childhood in PA. I’ve been known to spend Thanksgiving at the beach, but the first time wasn’t easy. Thanksgiving meant for many years getting dressed up and going to my grandmother’s in spite of rain, sleet or snow. I just made new traditions here in the south with my own children. Now they are making their own. Still, when I open an orange anytime of year, the smell takes me back in time to my Christmas stocking stuffed with a least one, rare and exotic winter time treat, the orange. Traditions remind us of those we love

  7. Cathy "Elaine Garverick" Gingrich Says:

    …but new traditions can make the journey fun and interesting. Some of us (me) are just too wordy. I’ve gotten your email re typos and will be back in touch asap. Thanks so much for you interest. Happy New Year! Cathy


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