A Christmas Gift

A Christmas Gift to Myself

Exhaustion, indifference and procrastination hung like a weighted blanket over my shoulders. The usual buzzing of my brain combined with the satisfying lift of a pen crossing off the latest task on my Christmas list felt unattainable. Where was that place in my body where the extra energy was stored? I needed it. Christmas was after all, just a few days away. Christmas, with it’s traditions waiting to be entered into, offering the same but different; the perfect mix of the unchanged with enough variety to keep us all coming back year after year to mold a new memory.

This year was too different. The sickening separation from the child loved had us cocooned by shock slowing down the world and depleting our energy. However, today I decided to take on a piece of the Christmas to do list, wrapping presents. I asked my husband where the gifts were and if he could help me gather the beautiful paper glistening of snowflakes. He shared with some concern that he had already wrapped the gifts in the old green paper that rested under the bed. A visceral, warm, gripping compulsion overtook my body, my words spewed wet and shaking from my mouth, “bring me the presents, I am going to unwrap them!”

So there I sat at the table, presents piled around me. Weeping deep from within, low, loud took the place of traditional sounds of Christmas carols. I ripped each package open making a statement as the pieces of green paper landed on the floor. My daughter walked in just at that moment, I’m sure I appeared absolutely certifiable. Questions, reasonable and sane slowly began to enter my thoughts. “Do you hear me? Can I see myself? What is happening?” Slowing down, I took a breath. It was the wrapping paper and grief. That was the problem. Silence settled in. I began to speak as if for the first time. In the basement of loss I had discovered what this was about. When I wrap, I think about each person, you know how you do when you fold your loved ones clothes after removing them fresh from the dryer, considering the gift of their presence and gratitude for the honor to love them. When I wrapped, I would choose just the right color of ribbon and paper for each person and with satisfaction I would consider, this is a match, this paper and this bow and then I would place it under the tree picturing the smile I will see upon the reveal. It wasn’t just about the paper at all, it was about picturing the person, virtually touching them, hearing their voice and feeling their presence, it was my own personal Christmas ceremony of love played over and over with each gift, a ceremony unconscious, now understood. This is the gift I look forward to giving myself this year and one that had remained unopened until my son took his place in heaven.

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