Once again, the hustle of work and bustle of life (and the holidays) have kept me from writing as often as I’d like to—or even need to these days. So, for those of you who read my blog, I apologize. After all, what helps me get through my days is reading the blog posts of others and I know that it can be so disappointing to check in only to see that nothing new has been posted. I really do want to get better about posting more often in the new year.
I’d like to begin by congratulating all of you parents out there—we made it through the biggest holiday of the year. We made it through a multitude of possible obstacles leading up to Christmas. Holiday cards featuring family photos developed on Shutterfly. Those lovely holiday letters. Writing and sending our own cards (if you found the energy to do it). Work parties. Family gatherings. All of those TV commercials that focus on children. Shopping, if you dared—which may have resulted in a few uncomfortable conversations with acquaintances. Stepping into church when you’re questioning faith the most. A possible change in your traditions from years past. Well, I think we deserve more than just a pat on the back! An all-expenses paid vacation, perhaps? Wouldn’t that be nice? Hawaii here I come!!! In all seriousness, though, I hope that you were all able to find a way to make your son or daughter a part of your holiday. The holidays were certainly different for us this year, but not nearly as terrible as we expected—just different.
For one, a very special family gave us the most amazing gift anyone could give. They remembered our son and kept his memory alive in their home for the entire Christmas season. A family in Alabama hand made an ornament for our Rylan and placed it on their tree. My husband and I were speechless. Tearful, but speechless. Our day-to-day doesn’t always allow us the chance to talk about our son. And, because he’s not physically here to share with others the way other families can, we often feel that the love we have for him must often stay inside—only between us and in our hearts, rather than out in the open. This family—whom we’ve never met—did so many things for our family. They thought about Rylan without us prompting it. They believed that his existence and his memory were important. They took the time to make something that symbolized his life. To them it was probably a pretty simple gesture, but to us it meant the world. We will never forget their family—and will also keep their baby, Lucy, in our hearts forever.
Two, I did about 98% of my shopping online this year. It worked out pretty well. I shopped primarily on Etsy.com and managed to get more personalized gifts than if I went out traipsing about the overcrowded malls. It saved me from the additional stress and rush of the holiday. One of the most important gifts that we purchased was from a shop called “Butterstore.” We wanted to give each of our family members an ornament for their tree that symbolized our son. The artist, Shay, creates beautiful, ceramic butterfly ornaments and even worked with me to hand paint footprints and Rylan’s initials on the bottom charm. I can’t thank her enough for creating something so special for us and our family.
We really weren’t sure about decorating our home this year. I pretty much handle the decorating in our house (mostly because I’m so artsy and OCD about it), but I didn’t really feel like I had the energy this time. I was kind of glad when I came home one day after work and Chris had pulled out a few decorations from the basement and left them on the shelf, replacing the few fall items I had put out for Halloween and Thanksgiving. It gave me the little push I needed. I certainly didn’t go as overboard as I normally do, but stringing some lights about the house made it feel warm and cozy. I normally love having strings of lights around and put them everywhere I can—around house plants, under fake snow, and I even caused a shortage once for stringing too many on our tree. I definitely get that from my mom—she keeps lights in her house all year round. Not in a cheesy way—more in that warm, country home kind of way. We also decided to purchase a small tree this year. We wanted it to be Rylan’s tree. We decorated it with ornaments that were special to us and placed a monarch butterfly at the very top. It sits in the front room of our home so I see it every time I pull in the driveway at night after a long day at work. We really weren’t sure if we wanted to get a tree this year at all. To be honest, nothing feels the same anymore and what we normally do in our lives couldn’t feel more abnormal. It was nice that picking a tree ended up being so simple. We stopped at a local place and loved the second tree we looked at—before we knew it we were home placing it in the tree stand. I’m so glad that we decided to get it and it was nice to feel like we were doing something to honor Rylan’s memory in some way.
We even got the pups to pose in front of the tree for a very brief moment so that we could send out a Christmas text to family and friends on Christmas morning…don’t they look just handsome?! It is my pleasure to introduce you to Sam and Nacho… our spoiled boys definitely give us something to smile about on a daily basis!
I did make it through my Christmas thank you cards. It took me until the very last minute but I got through them. It was hard, I won’t lie. It took some tissues and some definite courage. I probably sent more cards this year than I ever had—but I felt like we had a lot of people to thank this year.
We decided to stay in this Christmas eve and Christmas day, which was very different as we normally travel all over to see our family. I’ll be honest, it felt odd, but it was kind of nice to be home. Without the rushing around and hours in the car. It was nice to be with Chris and the dogs. We agreed to give each other just a few things, nothing crazy. That was nice because it allowed us to spend more time together in the long run. Rather than being out among crazed shoppers in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we spent our evenings on the couch under a blanket or hanging out in front of our tree listening to carols. On Christmas eve I worked, but that evening was nice. We visited the cemetery to place a tree and candle for Ry. It was VERY difficult, to say the least. I don’t think that I can put into words how that felt. Talk about being in such a different placed than I pictured this year. But I will save all of that for my next post. I really want this one to focus on the positive part of our holiday experience. So that evening we ate dinner, then watched classic holiday shows and sipped cocoa. I also wrapped some gifts pretty late (since I’m always a step behind in life-lol). On Christmas Day we slept in, exchanged gifts, and even gave wrapped-up bones for the pooches to open. Wrapped some last minute gifts, napped a bit, ate dinner, watched a Christmas music special, and even danced in front of the tree to Sinatra (we’re suckers for romance). All in all, it wasn’t too bad. We missed our family, of course. But the day was nicer than we ever imagined it could be in light of what was missing.
We plan to see our family over the next week or so to exchange gifts and spend some time. We saw one set of parents yesterday, as well as my sister’s family. My parents gave us some very thoughtful gifts. A beautiful ornament that they made with a photo of a butterfly on one side, and us with Ry on the other. I cried, but it was really so nice. They gave us necklaces with his name on them and some lighthearted gifts to make us smile. My sister gave us some gifts to make us laugh which was also appreciated.
So here I am, trying to finish my post before running off to work to meet some crazy deadlines. Time to get a shower, take care of the pups, and get my butt to work! At least it’s only one day and than we have a weekend! Thank goodness for that! Well, I hope you all had a lovely holiday and made the most of what you had to work with this year. Happy (belated) holidays!