I had been dreading this Christmas season like the plague, but it’s actually turning out to be ok. I miss Tim like crazy, and even though I still cry most every day about one thing or another, I’m finding a balance of sorts between crying over everything and finding pure joy and appreciation for the memories Tim and I shared. And not just memories that Tim and I made together, but also those we shared with Kim and Kendal.
Like every year I purchased all of the gifts for the kids, but for the first time ever I had to wrap everything myself. As I was wrapping, I could hear Tim saying I wasn’t cutting the paper in a straight line or that I was using too much tape, but I laughed at the thought that I may not have been doing it “Tim’s way” instead of crying about it.
Many people have asked me if I was going to put up a tree. If you came by the yard sale we had at the end of the summer you’d probably remember that a really nice couple took the tree home that Tim and I had decorated and enjoyed for a dozen years. Why did I need a tree anyway, when I’m pretty sure no one would be visiting to see it?? And honestly I didn’t want to share our decorating tradition with anyone else. Then I saw a Facebook post from our frienily Pontheolla who asked her friends to share one of their family traditions in a post. I realized I don’t have any joint traditions any more because Tim is no longer with me. So I thought maybe I’d start a new one. I did it with a ceramic tree that my grandfather Charles Perritt made in 1988 that I could never bring myself to get rid of. I ran to the closet and dug it out, thrilled that it was still in one piece!! I topped it off with an angel ornament given to me by my friend Yvonne. It’s perfect!!!! So my first tradition is now sitting in our bay window.
All of that aside, I knew the hardest part of the Christmas season would be to select the photos and write Kendal’s birthday book that Tim and I had done together every year since she was born. I knew everyone would understand if I didn’t do the book this year, BUT I knew Tim would be furious with me if I didn’t. It was our tradition after all! So beginning in October, I gathered all the great photos from the year to do the book from me to Kendal. But wait, how was I going to capture Kendal’s relationship just with her Pappy? While Tim was in the hospital, Tim and I talked about all of the things he’d want for Kendal as she got older. I think he knew he wasn’t going to be here. So I decided I had to do two books. One would be life lessons / advice for Kendal from Pappy and the other would be our traditional book of our adventures with Kendal during the year. It took me almost 7 weeks to complete both books, primarily because I cried through almost the entire process. Selecting the photos was excruciating as was putting together the words to accompany the photos. The words particularly in the book from Pappy needed to be meaningful both for Kendal now, and as she got older. Thankfully I survived the process and am incredibly proud of both of Kendal’s books. On her birthday she opened her package as usual, and was overwhelmed to see two books. She didn’t say much but the look on her face as she studied each photo of the Life Lessons book of she and her beloved Pappy was priceless!
While I was putting Kendal’s book together, I thought how great it would be if Kim would have a book on her birthday from Tim too!! Kim had mentioned that she believed she and Tim had left a few things unsaid prior to his sudden illness and death. Oh Lordy! More tears, BUT I started Kim’s project too, with her birthday being one week after Kendal’s! I found the projects to be very therapeutic. Though I cried a lot, I also loved reviewing all the photos of us and Tim, realizing how extensive our adventures and memories are. For Kendal to be 4 1/2 years old at the time of Tim’s death, they had made an amazing amount of memories together!
On Kim’s birthday yesterday (12/21), I watched her read each and every page of her book about she and her dad. She laughed and cried, and laughed and cried some more. I cried too! When she finished reading the book, she hugged it as if it really was her dad! The words I put together meant everything to her – a final gift from her dad.
So three days from now, I will open a few presents on Christmas Day… but after experiencing the last 7 days of Kendal’s and Kim’s birthdays and the sheer joy and deep meaning we all shared with three photo books of memories of our beloved Tim, I’ve already had my Christmas. This last emotional week has more than confirmed for me that it truly is much better to give than to receive. Happy Holidays to you all, and thank you for all of your support to our family for the past 5 months.