I believe, maybe because it helps me heal, that my brother would want me to enjoy the holidays. His car accident was in December almost 15 years ago, and that December date catches up with me each year. I start to hide from the world around mid-November. I want to sleep more. I blink back tears watching sappy commercials. I don’t feel like working or working out at the gym.
It happens right on cue every year, but it took me several years to realize it. I just thought it was holiday stress. Now I recognize it right away and know that I’m subconsciously dreading the December 5th angel date. The depression rolls in as if on cue.
When I didn’t realize the cause of the depression, I let it roll over me and tried to keep it to myself. I didn’t want to be a complainer. I thought about Chris every day, so I didn’t see how this time of year was different.
Now I know it’s going to happen, know why it’s happening, and I’ve told my family about it. My wife knows that December can be a little crazy. It took me years to get excited about Christmas again after Chris’s accident, but now I love it like I did before. It’s the only time of year that I actually enjoy going to the mall.
Believing that Chris would want me to enjoy the holidays helped tremendously. I’m still going to cry when I see a sappy commercial, because the emotions are running high this time of year, but I’m also going to appreciate the holiday atmosphere.
In the early years I tried distraction (go to the movies), escape (travel to another town), and denial (pretend everything is OK). Distraction and escape were helpful at the time, but denial never worked.
Now I focus on my family. When I see the hole that is Chris’s absence, I look at other families. That’s why I enjoy the mall at Christmas. It’s packed with families, panicked parents and excited kids. I love to think that they are not burdened by anything as heavy as a lost sibling or child. They’re just getting ready for another great Christmas. It helps me get ready for my own.