As you can probably imagine, the Christmas season this year has been very tough. At our house, we never went whole hog for Christmas, but we always put up some decorations, stockings, tree and such. This year there was nothing.  There is one ornament hanging from our mantle, it’s a crystal heart that has Jon’s picture engraved in it (thanks Mom!). I almost dug out our stockings, but couldn’t. The house doesn’t look any different now than it normally does.

We didn’t even put up the tree this year. A few years ago we didn’t put one up either, but that was in protest. I would always try to get everybody to help put it up but would get very little response. I wanted it to be a family experience, one we could look back upon and smile at. One year I just said that if I didn’t get help putting it up, I wouldn’t do it. My wife and Jon said, “OK”, and went about whatever they were doing. I stuck to my word and didn’t put the tree up. I think that it accomplished what I wanted though because after that year I always had help. Nothing was ever said, but it was something that I think we all enjoyed as a family. This year my wife and I couldn’t do it. We just couldn’t get into that happy place where we thought it would help.

Our family puts an angel on top of the tree. It’s always been the tradition that the kids put it on. When Jon was little, my favorite part of the tree trimming was holding him up so he could put the angel on top of the tree.

Chris holding Jon up to put the angel on top of the Christmas Tree. December, 1997 (Jon was 9).

This year there was none of that. Christmas has kind of snuck up on us. I didn’t  feel in the mood at all. I couldn’t even think about presents or anything. I was at Target the other day and I thought I’d look for something small to put at the grave site for him and I about broke down in the middle of the store. We didn’t even get anything for my brother’s kids until Christmas eve day.

Even our traditional family get together on Christmas Eve seemed in doubt for a while. Thankfully my brother pushed it through and we got together, even though it was really tough. It’s good that we did, it just wasn’t the same. Jon’s other grandparents came by for a few minutes and it was good to see them. The last few years Jon had hung around with us for a bit, then inevitably went out with friends, but he was always there and this time he wasn’t and it was very difficult. My brother’s kids had a great time and had lots of presents to open and their excitement made it hard to be too sad the whole time.

My parents and my wife and I had lunch with Emily on Christmas Eve. That was really nice and it was good to see her again.  We talked about a lot of things, but inevitably the conversation would turn to Jon. It’s the common thread between us all, so that makes sense. It was kind of like he was there though; they sat us at a table for six so there was an empty place at the table and I envisioned he was there with us the whole time. We exchanged gifts, and then suddenly the table got quiet and everybody did all they could to not start crying at the table. It wasn’t easy, we all miss him so much.

Emily and Jon, Christmas, 2009

Emily and Jon, Christmas, 2009

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures from last year’s Christmas. For some reason we didn’t do a family one (or I don’t have it). You don’t think about it at the time, but you always think there will be another time to get a picture. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

After a wonderful Christmas day lunch at my brothers (traditional lasagna 🙂 but it was awesome!) my wife and I went to the cemetery. Due to the fact that we keep getting snow here (almost three feet in December alone), getting to the grave site is kind of difficult despite the land being flat. We brought along a light tree thing to place there for him. The wreaths that are there were snow covered and it had a very “Christmas” feel to it. The headstone was already cleared away (we later found out my parents went out before lunch) so I didn’t have to clear away much. We went there and wished Jon a Merry Christmas. The rest of the day was pretty somber.

I hope everybody else had a great Christmas. We got through it, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for. Have a safe and fun New Year!

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