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.