This year will mark eight Christmases that we have spent without Jared. Eight years that we have hung his memory on the tree. Eight years that we have filled his stocking with love instead of presents. Eight years.
It doesn’t seem real that it’s been eight years. In many ways it feels like it was just yesterday that we celebrated that last Christmas together. I will forever treasure the memories of that day.
I can honestly say I am grateful I did not know that last Christmas would be our last Christmas. Instead of living in the moment and enjoying the celebration, I would have been trying to make it perfect for everyone else. I am forever grateful for that last Christmas, that I was just present. And enjoyed every moment with our family. I will treasure those memories from the rest of my life.
It doesn’t seem real that it’s been eight years. In some ways it feels like forever. Forever since we have been able to make a new memory on Christmas. Forever since I have
Heard his laugh.
Seen his smile.
Watched his blue eyes twinkle.
One thing that helps me during the holidays is sharing the memories of past Christmases. Our Christmas tree is full of memory ornaments. Places we’ve traveled. Family ornaments. Each ornament marks a special event in our lives. And as we hang the ornaments on the tree, we share the memory. That helps me feel as if Jared is still here. He physically cannot be present, but his spirit is always here. His memory lives on in our hearts and on our tree.
Jared died in September, so we celebrated our first Christmas without him just a few short months later. I knew we would need something special to get us through that first year. So I took the advice of my friend. Since we could no longer fill Jared’s stocking with gifts, we decided to fill it with love. My son and I wrote him a letter and we placed it in his stocking. For the last eight years, every Christmas Eve we sit at the dining room table,write Jared a letter, and then we place the letters in his stocking. This allows us to keep him present in our holiday celebration. For the last eight years, we have filled Jared stocking with letters.
With our experiences.
As we decorated our tree this year, my son and I discussed that first Christmas without Jared. We talked about how that first year, we couldn’t put all the ornaments on the tree. The memories were so powerful. Memories are beautiful, but that year they hurt. That first Christmas, we only put up a handful of ornaments. As we were decorating our tree this year, my son picked up an ornament and said this is the last ornament I put on the tree that first year. This is the ornament that made me say nope, I’m out. I can’t do this. I remember that moment. When he said that that first year, we stopped decorating. I honored his emotions. Didn’t force him to help me decorate the tree. And I didn’t keep decorating because it was too hard for him. When we were done that first year, we were done. The tree wasn’t fully decorated, and that was OK. We did what we could and that was enough. The next year, we were able to put all the ornaments on the tree. There were definitely tears shed.
Now eight years later, very few tears are shed. Instead, there is a lot of joy.
Eight years later, we are grateful for the walk down memory lane. It helps us to remember a wonderful man that we miss dearly.