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.