I've been thinking back to this time last year, more than this time 2 years ago. I was, consumed, last year, with remembering the year before. In that terrible year between Gabe's birth and the first anniversary of his death, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I had done at that time, the year before.Remembering, framing and re framing memories. Trying to come to terms with what happened. I felt like I was being forced to watch a car crash, over and over. I knew how it would end, but I was powerless, all I could do was stand and watch.

Such is the virtue of time, it dims our memory. Things that seemed so unbearably painful last year, are a dull, unresolvable ache this year. Yes Mrs. Spit, there is life after the death of your child. Eventually, you move into something a lot like living your life again.

Christmas, the act of keeping it, has been different this year. Last year I forced myself to "do" Christmas. I forced myself to decorate, to cook Christmas dinner, to buy gifts, put up a tree, sing carols. It was a constant grind. Every moment of it was sandpaper on my skin. I only did it because I figured I had to. I figured that the Christmas right after Gabe's death was the "first" Christmas, and I should be all better. I was only starting to learn the need to advocate for yourself, your sanity, when you are grieving. Last year I was not sure I would ever want Christmas again. I was terrified that my once favourite holiday was gone to me forever, would always be overshadowed by sadness.

It is better this year. We have, paradoxically, stayed away from our church (but, that's the subject of another entry) and we have been kinder to ourselves. Perhaps it is merely that the pressure is off. I don't feel like we are being so closely watched: watched by those around us, but not given much in the way of understanding.

Christmas is different though. I have a better sense of what matters. I watch mindless consumerism, and I think about that verse in Matthew, about who receives what we prepare for ourselves after we die (the original injunction that you can't take it with you.) I find myself more in love with the Christ Child, and more in love with the promise of his Resurrection, that guarantees me mine, and less inclined to buy more crap.

But, at least this year, I am excited about Christmas, I am excited about who is coming for dinner, I'm excited about plans for a Christmas concert, I've already been to a Festival of Lessons and Carols. I'm excited about the tree, I'm excited about the house being decorated. I'm even excited about baking.

I am, grateful. Grateful that Christmas is restored to me, grateful that I understand it differently. Grateful that I remain, and there is still room in my heart to share.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I
may sponge away the writing on this stone!"
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol