Originally posted at Blogger in Novermber of 2011 – I got through that first year without my Mom, there were some tough times but new memories were made.

How does one go about starting new traditions when those who led the way are not here to do the leading?

Last Christmas was a bit sorrowful in its own rite knowing pretty certainly that my Mom would not be here this Christmas. I think we, or I got through it pretty well, up until I opened one particular gift from her. It was an old vase she’d had since she was around 7 years old. I always liked it, it is pretty, the colors are vibrant and therefore do not “go” with many things and it’s a vase I’ve never seen hold flowers, but Mom had lots of “things” and most I did not feel such a strong liking of. Mom and I had a lot in common, but not the same taste.

Mom would never part with that vase, and it’s not as if I didn’t ask. I had asked for it different times over the years, so when I opened up that box last Christmas and found the vase within, well, it was hard to not let the tears flow, and they did escape my eyes briefly. It was at that moment that I really truly realized as much as she kept trying to live, she knew her time was very limited and there were some things she wanted me to have, from her giving them, and not me taking them home after her death. She knew how much I enjoyed that vase.

My tears were always hard for me to share with my Mom, my Dad and my brother, but lately not as hard, as they have raced down my face far too often these days. That Christmas Eve I was glad to be sitting where she could not see me, opposite her on the other side of the Christmas tree. Most everyone else in the room could see my tears, but they let me be and I am grateful for that. That Christmas tree once stood probably 5 1/2 feet tall, but now, about 2 feet tall, because Mom and Dad just wouldn’t give it up, just kept cutting it down each year. Years ago the cat they had laid in the bottom branches so much it was the first year of the “cutting” down of the tree, because the cat was heavy enough to bend the branches beyond repair.

Mom always loved Christmas, there were traditions that were so important to her and she hated when things changed. Christmas Eve was always spent at my Grandma’s, followed by the 11:00pm Christmas Eve service at Church. She didn’t want to open presents at her house until Christmas Day. Which worked fine until marriage came for me and traditions had to change. Christmas Day in the early years were spent with Keith’s family. So Mom’s way of keeping the presents till and only on Christmas day resorted in coming back to her house after Church and then it was midnight and officially Christmas day and presents could be opened! Well that was fine until kids started appearing and trying to keep toddlers up, not cranky, opening the 15th Christmas present from Grandma and Grandpa was not so much fun. Then it was mine and Keith’s turn to be cranky when those same kids were waking us up at 5am Christmas day at our house. Mom was forced to change her traditions, she didn’t like it, but she worked in a new tradition that made her happy, Christmas Eve morning breakfast at her house. This “new” tradition has been around now for so long I can almost forget the 2-4 hours of sleep Keith and I used to get on Christmas.

Mom loved Christmas. She always had too many presents under the tree. She  had too many Christmas decorations. It just occurred to me the other day how many of those decorations are gone because I sent them off to the Goodwill or to the auction after she died. It took me a bit by shock when I realized what I’d done. I don’t think, deep in the recesses of my memories, I wanted to see them this year without her and without realizing gave them all away.

Mom made the traditions, but now she is gone and I’m a bit lost this year about what I want to do. It is not the same, it cannot be the same, but how much has to change? I went so far as thinking I could make everyone hole up in a cabin somewhere else to spend Christmas eve and Christmas day instead of my parent’s house, making it so completely different I thought would keep me from missing what had taken place in that house all these years. But I realized soon enough I’d never get everyone from Dad to brother, to kid’s to agree to that idea.

I want this Christmas to be happy, joyful, and spiritual. I have grieved each Christmas since my Grandpa’s passing in 1985. Traditions started changing then. I am like my Mother, I love tradition and this year, more than any other year, the traditions have been turned upside down, inside out and twisted all around. Like my mother, I am not happy, but I know new traditions must be set. The question remains however, “How does ONE go about starting new traditions, when those who led the way are not here to do the leading and more important, getting others to follow or lead the way themselves?

I will try the best that I am able at this present moment to embrace what comes. It means, for me, giving in and letting go and allowing more tears to flow. The tears flow now, cascading down my face and splashing on my hands, as I sit and remember all those Christmas eves.

I will try to make this Christmas meaningful. It’s not about the presents, it never was. It has always been about having time; having time together wherever, and whenever. Savoring each moment with those I love.

It is time for the changing of the Guard.  I will give in and then let go of the grief. I will make new memories with the loves still standing with me. I will take time to remember all the good memories and traditions of the past. New traditions will come with time. I will get through the tough days when my heart is breaking from the loss of my leader, by leaning on those who love me and those I love and together we will get through the loss of our leader by each of us leaning on the other.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from JL The Turtle is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JL The Turtle and The Accidental Thoughts of a Turtle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About jlturtlerunner

12 plus Years Surviving Stage IV Oral Cancer. I have become a "Turtle" runner since that diagnosis, as a way of saying, "Take That Sucker!" After 12 years of being a Turtle Runner, I'm adding a new title, Turtle Rucker!

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