This Christmas we stayed home. Over four years ago, Caleb came home for the holidays and that was the last time we spent them here. We spent the last four Christmases anywhere else thinking that would help. Totally wrong. I feared the holidays would not be the same with him not home. Turns out I was also correct.
Whether I am home or on the beach or visiting friends, the holiday sucks.
The house felt like the same sad place we had decorated the last few years. I spent from 2000 to 2014 having Caleb by my side decorating the inside and outside of the house. We struggle to do more than put up the generic Christmas tree and a handful of decorations since he died. As my anxiety increased each day, so did my loathing of the slow passing of time. Furious over this entrapment, I decided if I was going to suffer, if I had to sit here and listen to the screaming grief in my head, it might as well be with cheery things screaming back. Besides, I had tons of time on my hands and that is the absolute worst thing when dealing with loss during the holidays.
So I bought a 16 channel Light-O-Rama that plays music on a radio station to a programmable sequence of light effects, a bunch of extension cords, and lights. Oh, and more lights! I asked my daughter to come help me, and she really got into it, mostly. The cold wind dampened her spirit some for a bit, but after warming up a few minutes, we got back to it. As we went along stringing lights, she later asked if we were going to make the cross again. We used to always make a large cross on the ground and Caleb would help me set it up, align it, and give his blessing. I had been avoiding it. However, she was right. It needed to be done.
The inside of our home also received a lot more treatment. Did any of this help? It took about 30 hours to set up over several days. The constant manual labor kept my focus off the mental anguish and is always welcome. The time I spent with my daughter is priceless. I hope people passing by the house took time to listen and watch and find a moment of joy. Watching the lights has a calming, peaceful effect on me. In spite of these wins, the holidays are still difficult, but not as much as I had anticipated.
The three of us packed all the decor on Epiphany. I hope to set it up next year with better music, more decor, and more lights. The over 11,000 this year was not enough!
Aside: Feels like forever since Caleb was here. Today is the 55th month he has been gone. I’ve not posted in a while because the side-effects of grief, many of which I have written about many times, have been more difficult to deal with through the holidays. Time does not heal these wounds. A piece of me has been amputated. I will always feel this missing part of my life and the ghost replacing its rightful place.