This second Christmas without Joe is harder than the first. The numbness has worn off. Cole and I are keenly aware that we are now a family of two. We have kept our holiday traditions, but every single one is different without Joe.
Every year, Joe and Cole would trot off to buy a Home Depot Christmas tree. From time to time, I had visions of cutting down our own tree, but Joe was not under any illusions that cutting down our own tree would be a Hallmark moment for our family. The Home Depot tree would come home, the stand would be located, and we would engage in the is-it-straight game. God forbid I suggest that the tree might not be as straight as it could be after the bolts on the stand had been tightened.
Cole picked out our tree this year – a big, beautiful Douglas Fir. We brought it home. Cole found the stand and asked me over and over again, “Is it straight, Mom? Look at it from all angles. Are you sure it’s straight?” I think he also cursed a little.
Joe would put the lights on the tree. Cole and I would decorate the tree, while Joe disappeared with his martini. He would return in time to inquire where we had hung special decorations and to join Cole in throwing big bunches of tinsel on the tree. I objected, of course, as it is written that every mother should, admonishing them to hang each strand of tinsel carefully.
Last year, Cole attempted to hang the lights on the tree. He seemed so confident when he started. It took my mom, dad, Cole and me two hours to untangle them and start again. Who knew you did not wrap lights around the branches of a tree? My parents re-hung the lights masterfully. This year, Cole and I will hope for the best as we light up the tree, and I will heed my mother’s recent warning, “Remember, don’t leave my grandson alone with the Christmas tree lights.” Together we will hang the ornaments, remembering which ones Joe insisted we hang in front, like the angel Joe and I bought for Cole the Christmas before he was born.
Joe had visions of grandeur each year when it came to decorating the outside of the house. He always planned to put all the decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. Aside from the eve of our wedding (December 23rd) when he hung the lights in a snow blizzard, it never happened. Usually, he ended up wrapping a few strands of lights around our bushes and calling it done. A few years ago, he came home with a hard plastic polar bear wearing a stocking cap that glowed. He planted it in the yard and then insisted that Cole and I come out for the lighting of the bear. We ooh’d and aah’d. The polar bear stood alone proudly, and Joe declared the outside of the house decorated. We were the house with the polar bear.
We still have to put the polar bear out this year. When Cole and I discussed it, he sighed and said, “Mom, decorating for the holidays is a lot of work.” We will put the polar bear out together. He will plug it in, and I will ooh and ahh.
Cole needed chocolate for his school’s Secret Santa gift. Joe always insisted that he would handle buying the chocolate. Year after year, I believed him. Year after year, he forgot. Year after year, we fought about it. I never learned. He never remembered to buy the chocolate
This year, I did not have to make a last-minute run to Target for chocolate.
Cole and I were sitting together on the couch, drinking eggnog.
Our toast was one martini glass short.
Cole and I will spend Christmas Eve with dear friends and Christmas Day with family. Cole will ski and sled his way through the holiday break, and I will run my business and carve out time for Cole and I to do things together.
The holiday season will come, and the holiday season will go … without Joe.
And the holidays will be different without Joe.
★~♥~♥~★~ ♥~★~★~♥ ~
Showing off my links…
None of them are affiliate links. Just odds and ends I found along my internet travels that made me think of you …
Here is a fun post on decorating your house the “right way.”
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Don’t forget these great books or books on tape for your pre-teen reader: Sara and Solomon-A story of dreams come true.