The hardest holiday

I was driving home from the airport after two weeks of exhausting travel and had just gotten off my exit.

I couldn’t wait to get home, and the finish line was minutes away. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I was driving by a shopping mall to get to my small oasis on the lake.

Sitting at a red light, I looked over at the lane next to me and saw my first reminder of the next hardest holiday. A car had a Christmas tree strapped to the roof like a prized trophy. It punched me in the gut in a way that is hard to describe.

I dread this first Christmas without James. I managed to get through 4th of July, Halloween, and even Thanksgiving with minimal angst. But Christmas? Oh, this was going to suck like a Dyson!

Like most folks, we had our own small traditions – Christmas Eve at the in-laws, and reservations on the day at a fine restaurant, just us two.

One year I failed to plan ahead and make reservations and we ended up at the local Polynesian restaurant. It was very “Christmas Story,” and I thought hysterical. James was not as amused.

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This year I plan to skip Christmas. It’s my right as a newly minted widow, but more importantly, I just can’t stand the thought of putting up a tree and hanging all the decorations we had accumulated over the years from our modest travels. A pirate ship from Wells Beach, Maine where we spent our honeymoon. A dangling music note from The Ryman in Nashville. Too much fresh pain this first tender year.

I made reservations of another sort for Christmas day. I’m going to a yoga retreat in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It’s the polar opposite of what we would have done together as a couple, and so I hope, exactly what I need.

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