The Christmas Letter

We’d never done a Christmas letter before. Honestly, getting a decent family photo took up quite a bit of the energy I reserved for Christmas goings-on. Then to get envelopes stuffed, sealed, stamped, and delivered to the post office…well, adding a letter to that process didn’t seem like a “must-do” to me. But for some reason, this year my girl wanted to include a few words about what we’d been up to. So, I sat in front of the computer, staring at the cursor blinking on the blank screen, before I finally dashed this off:

We packed a lot of activity into 2014. We adopted a kitten, Katje, to join Rafael; played on the Florida beaches, wandered around the zoo and amusement parks; took in a baseball game and a Renaissance Faire; and had a wonderful time traveling to London and exploring that amazing city. We also started our third year of homeschooling. We wish you a blessed Christmas season and hope that 2015 brings you joy and happiness.

Not an awesome letter by any stretch of the imagination, but it hit the highlights and made her happy. I added a photo of her in London, on the Queen’s Walk by the Thames, waving a Union Jack with Big Ben in the background. Printed off three to a page, cut them up, stuffed them in the envelope with the photo card, and we were good to go.

But the letter I mailed wasn’t the letter that’s been in my heart this whole month. That letter, written by pointed grief on the shards of my heart, isn’t nearly so breezy, so carefree and merry, so filled with our traipsing and wandering. The only Christmas letter I really wanted to write this year is to Kevin:

Dear Kevster,

I miss you.

It’s Christmas again. Another one without you and that seems impossible to me.

Impossible.

Thought you’d like to know that we’re having cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast again – Beary already asked because she loves that tradition you and I started so many years ago…all because I didn’t want to cook on Christmas morning. We added some new ornaments to the tree and I wish you could see them because I know you’d love them – especially the one from Buckingham Palace. It’s a Palace Guard and I set him watching over your ornaments to keep them safe and protected; I just like feeling that something is taking care of them, nestled in the green branches, while I sleep.

Rudolph and all his pals are still singing under the tree, except Hermy won’t work this year, even with new batteries, and that makes me sad because his song is the one I most want to hear: “Why am I such a misfit?” I could sure use his squeaky elf voice singing to me right now because I feel like such a misfit at this season. I get cards with photos of happy, smiling families, and I tape them up around the dining room entrance and pass under all that joy every time I go to the kitchen, but inside, it’s hard. It’s hard to share the joy when all I want is a card with a Christmas photo of my whole family – you and me and the Bear – all together again, like always. I feel like I don’t fit in at Christmas, this season of joy and merry and family – because you’re gone and it feels like our family shattered and scattered like an ornament knocked from the top of the tree. Everywhere around me, there are bits of tradition and bits of my heart and bits of our Bear’s spirit – and even if I glue all those bits back together, something is still missing…You.

I planned a jolly season, Kev, a season that you would be so proud of. Our Elf on the Shelf has been up to some antics like you wouldn’t believe and our little girl is so caught up in the magic; it’s breathtaking to see. And I took her to see “A Christmas Carol” – she loved it, Baby. She loved every bit of seeing the actors on stage and the story unfolding: “God Bless Us, Every One!” And we saw “White Christmas” on the big screen and munched buttery popcorn and Junior Mints. And I surprised her with a golden ticket for an after-bedtime Christmas lights scavenger hunt. And we’ve done our Jesse Tree and read of the miraculous, unwrappable gift of love God gave us. And we’ve made sugar cookies and gingerbread men, and decked the halls, and raised the roof with our caroling. But all these things that we did to fill our Christmas with joy and love couldn’t fill the space you left behind. There’s still an emptiness, Kev, because you’re not here with me.

I miss you.

I love you.

Merry Christmas, Baby.

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