This year was not easy. A couple of days before Christmas I happened to notice high up on a shelf the fishing trophy Sarah won in 2011.
For some reason this really triggered me as I remembered that trip and how much fun we had with her little sister. She could really pull in the fish. The previous year she should have won also, but I remembered the same fish was used to judge both the parents tournament and the kids tournament and we had a long discussion about cheating, should I have made a big fuss about it and how every time they look at that trophy the child will know it was not really earned.
Sunday the 23rd Mom put out some new flowers. These roses have some stripes in them to make them look a little like a candy cane. She added a holly branch to Christmas it up a little.
Mom wrote on a Christmas Facebook post that she couldn’t shop this year without Sarah. She didn’t want anyone to get her anything and I understand why.
Usually I would read The Night Before Christmas to everyone right before going to bed and that was the tradition up to last year.
That tradition died with Sarah. It would be to painful and noticeable that she was missing.
There were no stockings hung on the mantle. Instead I purchased a small tree surrounded by cardinal figurines that I had picked up over the span of a couple of months. We got a new white Christmas tree with purple ornaments and a couple of cardinal clip on ornaments for the top. Bringing out the old tree and ornaments would be too hard to experience this year.
Christmas would normally start with all the children getting up at 4 a.m. and (trying to) quietly play board games until the 7 a.m. when they were allowed to wake us up to open presents. Then we would either eat first or go to mass first depending on the timing.
This year Mom was the only one up at 5 a.m. on her own, no alarm or reason, she just woke up. She woke up everyone when it was time to get ready for church. We attended 9 a.m. Mass before eating or opening presents and visiting the grave that is next to the church.
When we arrived home there were many cardinals in the tree next to the driveway. I saw at least 4 with other birds like Chickadees and Titmouses.
This year introduced a new tradition of releasing biodegradable balloons with messages to Sarah.
This was kind of a preliminary run. More balloons were released later with messages by everyone. I’m not entirely impressed with these balloons, but because they went up so slowly you could watch them for a long time (a couple wouldn’t float at all). It is a mixed emotion. Some got caught in the trees but eventually worked their way out and up into the sky.
If you turn up the sound, you may be able to hear the male cardinal that was chirping the entire time I was releasing this balloon. He perched up on a top branch behind me at the end of the driveway and watched the whole thing unfold. I could turn around and see him, but as soon as I pointed a camera at him he flew away.
Later when we were leaving about a half mile from home a bright red male cardinal swooped down in front of the car so close he disappeared below the hood.
One thing is for certain. Christmas will never be the same without having Sarah with us.