It is the day after Thanksgiving, or “black Friday” as most of us refer to it these days. I imagine myself in my best holiday shopping outfit complete with new leather boots, a warm peacoat and a bright holiday scarf. I navigate the Vintage Faire Mall parking lot like a champion. With my non-fat, extra hot white chocolate mocha in hand I brave the crowds to meet up with my best girlfriends. We laugh, we wait in long lines and sing along with the cheesy holiday soundtracks playing in the background.
But this is not how my day is going. Cut to me in frumpy sweats with Elvis’ Blue Christmas playing on repeat in my living room. I aimlessly add items to online shopping carts with no regard to prices or sizes. My Christmas list has shrunken by one and the magic is gone. One of my three boys has no list for Santa this year.
I go through the motions of decorating the house and realize there is an empty space on the mantle for his stocking. Should I hang it or keep it packed away? It is a painful reminder that he is gone forever, never again to smile like he did on Christmas mornings past. I decide it should be hung as a reminder that he did, in fact, exist.
And now another pressing issue: what will I put inside? Certainly not gifts he will never open. I cry hysterically at the thought of his empty stocking next to the other children’s whose will be spilling over with candy and trinkets. I want nothing more than to fast-forward into January.
As I sob in a puddle of tears on floor, I begin to laugh, realizing how much I feel like a melted snowman. I start to pray, in my own way, for help. I share my pain and I ask for answers. I cry some more and use his stocking to wipe away my tears. When I am done with all of my requests I sit cross-legged on the floor and I wait. I straighten my posture and breathe deeply. I close my eyes, settle my mind and I wait.
A memory from my childhood appears. It is my late Nana, wrapping a gift she bought for herself. On the tag she writes, “to Pearl, from Santa.”
She did this every single year, and I never understood why. But right now, in this moment, it makes perfect sense. Maybe, just once a year, we should do something nice for ourselves. Treat ourselves with as much love as we treat everyone else with.
This year, she answered my prayers. I will fill my little boy’s stocking with gifts for myself. I will wrap them in the prettiest paper and use the fanciest bows. And although it won’t make Christmas perfect, it is quite literally a divine way to mend a piece of my broken heart and remember two amazing angels.