I am cleaning today, sort of, catching up from having the small furry guest for four weeks. I am still smiling over a text I received from Ryan, our surviving son, I had shared with him that I was madly cleaning in preparation for our book study. He shared that metal was good listening music for cleaning. I laughed and said I wasn’t sure I was up for that, yet, we keep such a quiet house. I thought I could put on some Christmas music though, oh the scandal right? Thanksgiving still a week away and me thinking of listening to Christmas music. The shame of it all.
I don’t get all wound up about the calendar, the seasons, shopping, or holidays. Life since Justin’s death has the flavors of one long Lent. And there are themes of Advent in grief also, the waiting. Waiting to be reunited one day, hopefully. Waiting for a quiver of excitement to come back when the calendar turns to November and December instead of a shiver of dread.
I think it all nonsense you know. This bickering about what is appropriate before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving, whether we should “allow” shopping on Thanksgiving Day, what do you suggest, more legislation that dictates when businesses can be open? We don’t need one more law. I can only speak for myself, but as a bereaved parent, I really don’t care that you are indignant that some big box store is open on the Thanksgiving evening. I also don’t care that there are Christmas lights out before Halloween. Easter candy will arrive in February, and so it goes.
I want my dead son back. I want to hear his voice. I want to feel that rush when his car pulls in the driveway and that dark curly head appears at the door. I want to see the cats come running and turn themselves inside out at his feet. I want to see the heads of my two sons close together in conversation, laughing at some inside joke they have from childhood. Perhaps you can see why I find all the focus on the “appropriate” days and time wasteful.
We don’t celebrate the holidays in traditional ways anymore. I will not be dictated to by some erroneous day on the calendar when I should celebrate family and friends. Everyday belongs to God, not just the few, everyday I live the cross and manger. I should put as much care into a meal for everyday as a “holiday.” The soul and body need to be nourished everyday. If I wake up and no one has died, then it is a good day, a day for the best dishes, a day for giving thanks.
We have an open door policy for Ryan, the door is always open, and when he comes home, it will be Christmas. Be it July or January. I bake Lucia Buns on days beside December 13th, and we have cookies year round. I can pull together a turkey dinner with my eyes closed. What freedom there is in declaring everyday that we see our son a holiday, a holy day. Everyday that the family gathers is sacred. We intentionally move the stress and pressure that is absolutely needless away from us, and we simply enjoy the moments that come our way.
I wait in my grief to feel something, to feel desire for living, I live Advent as I wait. And if in this waiting I want to play Christmas music before Christmas, I chose to see it as a sign of life. A small sign that one day I may even graduate to securing a Christmas tree or decorating. But right now, a little “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” sounds appealing, that and a cup of Holiday tea with cinnamon and citrus.
Do not feel sorry for us that evidence of the holidays do not abound in our house or on the outside of our house, we certainly don’t feel sorry for ourselves. It isn’t all about the trappings and exterior. We live our interior of waiting, we wait uncluttered, and we wait in a certain freedom, freedom from having to “do”, just allowing ourselves to “be.” To be watchful for when that boy does come home with his big dog, to be watchful for when family comes to sit and relax, to be watchful for friends to come and visit. To watch for quiet moments of reflection.
I can promise you that if you stop by, you may not find Better Homes and Gardens, but you will find the kettle on in a moment’s notice and there is always crackers and some sort of almond butter on the counter, slice a few apples and all of a sudden you have a feast. There most likely won’t be any Swedish metal music either, we are still taking baby steps.