I didn’t feel like celebrating Advent and Christmas this year. Grief reappeared as the holidays approached. The usual festive celebrations made me feel tired and irritable. I remembered the events of a year ago, leading up to my father’s death in early January. I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate either the “secular Christmas” or the “sacred Christmas”.
Minutes after hanging that picture above the mantel, it came crashing down. Three of the nativities and a beautiful stained glass candle globe were swept off the mantel. They shattered on the wood-stove below, leaving shards of stained glass, broken ceramic pieces and a cracked gourd retablo. The entire nativity set of little thorn carvings from Nigeria were completely beheaded as we watched the little heads roll across the floor. My first reaction was tears, then laughter, then a slow realization that nothing would ever be quite the same again, since my father’s death.
It was time to let go of the past. The stained glass candle globe and a few nativities were gone. So was my father. I didn’t have to attend every Christmas event like I usually did.
It was time to start new traditions for the future. The picture was securely placed back on the wall. We found all the missing heads and glued them back on the little carved bodies. Mary was missing her hair covering, but that was OK. It would serve as a reminder that sometimes we are stripped of the comfortable things in life, like our rituals. Sometimes we are vulnerable or stripped of the things we hide behind. Sometimes we just have to show up, be present in the moment and keep moving forward. I resonated with "Vulnerable Mary".
Christmas morning I woke to a small lit Christmas tree in the living room. My husband decided that rituals were still important when living with grief. He secretly put up the tree and ornaments as a surprise. He intentionally chose one ornament from every stage of our lives to represent the many Christmas celebrations we had as a family. It was fun seeing all those years represented on the tree. It made me appreciate the gift of celebrating traditions in slightly new ways. We enjoyed a new tradition of tacos for Christmas lunch, made by our young adult sons. Something old, something new, nativities salvaged, traditions reviewed. It was a good day.