It will be almost 3 years since my husband passed away and also the third holiday season. And every year I have big plans to make memories with my daughter of tobogganing and baking cookies. Chilling and watching movies. No big dinners, no breaking the bank on gifts, teach my daughter about the spirit of Christmas. But… it’s just a big plan that never gets implemented. Because I love Christmas and I love to give.
A little context here, I am an Ismaili Muslim and by definition we don’t typically celebrate Christmas. My family we would celebrate a little but my husband never did. So throughout our married life we never celebrated Christmas. My daughter had no concept of Christmas because it was never celebrated. December is also a special month for us being our spiritual leaders birthday as well. It’s also my birthday and my daughter is born on December 21, so December is a busy month. So our first Holiday Season, which was also 6 months after my husband passed, I decided to celebrate big.
I had read blogs and books and everything about widowhood and a child’s grief, and they all said to try and create new memories together. That the holiday season is tough and to be strong and create time to have new memories. Not to forget old memories but create new traditions and new memories. So I decided to go big. And if you know me then going big for me also means going over the top. Big dinners, breaking the bank with gifts and lots of over the top actionable driven by guilt.
What else could a widow do. Come on, face it, we all did a little retail therapy after the loss of our spouse, why wouldn’t my daughter want some. Why not do something to put a smile on her face. If anyone deserves it, she does. The guilt was driving me to make the holiday season special. Making sure that she doesn’t feel the loss of her father during the holidays. Each day in December she had to open a new gift. Which entailed me wrapping frantically a bunch of gifts. Which also meant me not spending time with my daughter.
So I decided to do a big dinner at my house. Have presents for everyone. Have Santa and lots of fun. I planned on having presents for my daughter on our spiritual leaders birthday, a present to open on the morning of her birthday, and gift to give her at her birthday party, and multiple gifts under the tree. Isn’t this what Christmas is about.
In all the hustle and bustle and trying to create new memories all I really did was burn myself out and not make any new memories. I would spend time cooking, shopping, wrapping and where was my daughter, playing on her own. My brain was fried planning and organizing and making Christmas perfect, that I didn’t have time to spend with my daughter.
I would see pics of people going tobogganing and baking together and think that is what I should be doing. When I think of all my fondest memories growing up they were usually when I was spending time with my family. Not being showered with toys but quality time with my family. My daughter is the same, whenever we ask her about her fondest memories it’s not about toys it’s about memories.
So this year I am taking Christmas back, bad widow style. No crazy presents, no elaborate dinners and no burnt out widow. My daughter is gonna get 4 gifts and the rest of her gift is time spent with her mom. We are gonna make memories. Not the kind you can buy, the kind you create. So we are gonna go tobogganing and bake together and watch a Home Alone Marathon. We are gonna achieve this without guilt.
No guilt? Thats a concept. As a widow we often have a lot of guilt. We try and replace the loss of the father by doing things over the top and excessive. We have guilt that makes us make decisions based on guilt. And because we don’t have our spouse to bounce ideas off, we make quick decisions and impulse buys. Like as if, a bunch of toys will replace her grief. Or take the place of her father. That guilt is something that overtakes us and almost dictates everything we do.
But what if we let go of the guilt. Said screw it to the guilt. I don’t care if it makes me a bad mom if I don’t buy my child a lot of toys. I don’t care if it makes me a bad mom because we are eating Chinese take out on Christmas Day. I don’t care if it makes me a bad mom if I don’t use retail therapy to make Christmas Special. I am gonna do things that make us happy. Not others happy. This year we are gonna sponsors a family and make Christmas special for them. We are gonna bake cookies for our neighbors, be it that they may not be perfect. We are gonna have a good advent calendar. Where everyday from December 1 to Christmas we are gonna put a non perishable item in a box and then go and donate it to the food bank. This year Christmas is gonna be about caring, sharing and time with family. Isn’t that what it should be?
No more guilt. No more retail therapy. Just one Bad Widow and one happy child.