Tag Archives: A Christmas Carol

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.

A Place Called Home

Kevin proposed to me on Christmas Eve, so that’s been on my mind a lot lately, as Christmas dances ever nearer. Beary is delighted, beside herself with visions of sugarplums, and I’m just trying to hold on through the whirl. Trying to keep Christmas in my heart, but the heart-pieces left are shattered and not big enough to hold all the joy that the season should bring.

I’m managing by keeping our big traditions, but letting others slide. For this year, at least. For my Bear, I have to keep some Christmas, so we decorated our tree and staked down our inflatable yard decorations. We made some candy and hung our stockings. And I sorted through the Christmas movies, trying to decide which ones I could handle this year. So many we enjoyed as a family; so many we wanted to share with our Bear as she got older.

I realized she’d never seen “A Christmas Carol” and it was one Kevin loved; he collected several versions to enjoy. He so much wanted to share it with her, but the timing was never right and now it’s just the two of us to carry on for him. I decided to do it, to watch it with her, and I approached it methodically, thinking that was my best bet for getting through Kevin’s tradition. We planned for it as a lesson, our reading unit for December. We read the book, read a Magic Tree House adventure about Charles Dickens, studied Victorian England, and culminated with the Kelsey Grammer version of the movie, eating popcorn and cuddling in Daddy’s chair.

I was ready for the story to unfold, for the memories of Christmas past and Christmas present and Christmas future — on the screen and in my mind. I steeled myself, determined to keep emotion in check, to see the magic unfold through her eyes.

I forgot about the music. The beautiful songs.

There’s a place called home
I can almost see
With a red front door
And a roaring fire
And a Christmas tree
Yes, a place called home
Full of love and family
And I’m there at the door
Watching you come home to me

Through the years
I’ll recall this day
In your arms
When I finally found my way
To a place called home
And to life with you
You’ll have everything
You could ever want
All I want is you
And a place called home
You and I will always be
In the dark of the night
Let your heart come home to me

Through the years
I’ve recalled this day
In your arms
When I finally found my way
To a place called home
And to life with you
Where the days are long
And the love is strong
And the dreams are true

Just a place called home
You and I will always be
In the dark of the night
Let your heart come home
To me
To the place in my heart
Where you’re always home
With me

I forgot.

Then I remembered.

Because with Kevin, I felt like I’d finally found home. My home, our home, where anything was possible. We searched for each other for so long. And when you find the one who finally fits, well, that’s home and you never want to lose it. We’d finally found our way there. Together. To a place called home.

It’s hard right now, to be in our home but to feel like my real home, my heart, is gone. Not completely, I know, because he left behind a beautiful little girl, the image of him, and she fills this home we created with laughter and joy and energy. I love her so much and I thank God for her every day. She explodes with merriment. Her antics and escapades and imagination fill up the air and swell to the heavens and I know Kevin watches with wonder and delight, chuckling over his Little Bear.

But there is still emptiness in my home, an emptiness in my heart. Everything is different now. And where before I heard the song and sang its lyrics at Christmas because it was our story, our journey to a place called home filled with love and family, now it’s all so different.

Now I hear it and my heart splinters as Old Ebenezer Scrooge’s voice breaks with the realization of all he’s lost.

Now memories of Kevin’s smile and his eyes and his arms rush to fill the hole he left behind, and I whisper through my heartache and tears, “…there’s a place in my heart where you’re always home with me…”