Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year?

In a few short hours, 2010 will be making its hasty exit while 2011 clamors to take pride of place. 

New Year's Eve has never been an occasion that I'm particularly fond of. Going out was always too fraught with stress ... reservations that were never properly honoured, the battle to capture a taxi... it always made more sense to stay in at my Mum's. 

This year will be the first New Year's in a very long time - gosh, we're talking decades - that I haven't marked this milestone in her company.

Unlike many people my age, I never had an issue with spending these holidays with my Mum. She was always so much fun to be around. She loved to play board games, eat calorie-laden naughty foods that you only cook up on such nights, and don silly, sparkly cardboard hats festooned with 'Happy New Year'! We would all struggle to keep our eyelids from closing prematurely but somehow, someway we would just about make it. New Year's Day was always greeted with a brunch of epic proportions: pancakes, bacon, toast, a frittata... and lots of Christmas cookies. We'd watch the Rose Bowl parade, play more games and dip into some of the DVDs that we received from Santa. 

This year will be the first New Year's that I am at home - at my own abode. I really cannot shove 2010 out the door fast enough, for this year was the one that took away my beautiful Mum, and for that crime it has surely overstayed its welcome. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coping: The Great Book Search (Part 2)

Thanks to the kind heart of one of my dearest friends, I finally feel that I've discovered a book that is helping me with my grief. 

'Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die' by David Kessler has been a godsend to me. 

It's beautifully written, and has been an amazing comfort to me. Kessler handles the topic of leaving this world for the next with sensitivity and compassion. I only wish that I had found this book before my Mum passed away. 

I always be grateful to my dear D who gave me this insightful book. xo

Monday, December 20, 2010

Skip the Popcorn, Just Bring Tissues

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be difficult at the best of times but when Christmas arrives in all its finery on your emotional doorstep, your heart is inevitably greeted with even more painful moments. 

Take movies for instance... most motion pictures created for the holiday season are full of warm remembrances, love-filled reunions and clarity of thought -- all subjects that are difficult to embrace when you're missing someone who you will never see again.

As much as it feels out of character, I've chosen to avoid some of my usual December celluloid picks ("One Magic Christmas", "The Homecoming", "The Christmas Box", and "Little Women" - the Liz Taylor version, Mum's favourite) because I'm just too raw for their stories right now. And let's not forget the animated Rankin & Bass classics - they're even more of an emotional minefield ("Nestor the Long Earred Donkey", anyone? "Ears, Nestor.").

The common thread in all these movies: their themes, all so beautiful and moving... and yes, I watched them all with my Mum. She loved each and every one of them. Atop of my avoid-at-all-costs TV viewing list is "The Family Stone". The last part of the story, after all the hilarity and family hi-jinx... well, if you've seen this funny yet touching film, you'll know why. The tree decorating scene at the end... heartbreaking, and right now too close to home. 

So for this year while I *try* my best to partake and honour Christmas like my Mum would want me to, I'm sticking within the cinematic safety zone of Will Ferrell's "Elf" and "Love Actually." I'm not sure yet how I will fare with these flicks. I'm a big softie, and can cry at just about anything. Yes, I have been known to tear up during both of these favourites, but at least I'm hoping that I'll be able to stir clear of a full-fledged waterfall. I can't promise, but I'll try. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Without the Merry

I was told it would be tough.

The first Christmas following the loss of someone so deeply cherished and loved.

I feel like I'm inhabiting someone else's body. Christmas is my favourite time of the year. Always has been. Normally, my tree is up just as our city's Santa Claus parade is wrapping up on TV. I strive to send out Christmas cards no later than December 1st, and search the shops early for the perfect gift wrap, and bows. Cookie baking is a joy, especially as my annual batch of chocolate chip just happen to be my Mum's favourite.  

But not this year. 

Dragging our tree out of storage and painstakingly taking a full day to decorate its branches - my heart wasn't in it. I was happy to be reunited with all my favourite baubles but they deserved more than me going through the motions while I hung them in their pride of place. Instead of hopeful anticipation, I felt sad, detached. Melancholy. 

The tree has been up now for a few weeks and surprisingly, I have all my shopping done (albeit from all online sources - I didn't have the heart to dig through all the cheery crowds in person). On the surface, this holiday appears to be just like all the others. The outside packaging is full of festive spirit and no one is none the wiser. Inside, however, my heart aches from the constant weariness of missing my Mum. All the tinsel and fairy lights wrapped around my tree won't make it heal anytime soon. And those cookies? I haven't been able to cross that threshold yet. Without Mum to enjoy their warm gooey brilliance, it all feels somewhat half-baked.