Widowhood Means Doing Holiday Tasks for Two

The mood has changed.

Not just my mood (although that can change every second, thanks to fluctuating hormone levels and no husband to yell at when I’m cranky for no reason). It seems like everyone’s mood has changed.

You know…we’re pretty funny. We can’t just give ourselves a time to adjust to the fact that the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. We can’t just sit back and relax and accept it for what it is.

Nope. Because thanks to Target and Hobby Lobby breaking out the autumn decorations in June and Christmas stuff in July, we now feel like we’re way behind on the holidays we’d really just rather fast-forward through.

I mean…c’mon…our spouses are dead. Can’t we just get a bye? (Yes Dad…I watch ESPN every once in awhile. During the commercial breaks on E!.)

I think we, as widows and widowers, really feel the pressure of the holidays. There are many reasons for this, most of which are obvious. But right now, I’d like to focus on one thing.

Our tasks are doubled.

For the non-shopper who lost his shopper…he now feels the pressure of the holidays looming before him and panic sets in early (which you should really stop worrying about. Don’t you know that Walgreens is open on Christmas Day? Found that out last year). For the person who lost the more responsible one of the couple who would always remember to “fall back” and change the clocks when it was time. And for the cook who could tackle all of the side dishes but never had to personally take the guts out of the turkey…well…I have no advice for you. You’re just going to have to suck it up.

Bottom line. You’re dealing with tasks for two. And it really stinks.

Before my husband died, Fall was my favorite time of the year. The leaves would be beautiful. There would be a sudden nip in the air. And it meant that it was time to cover up the grill and start cooking gumbo again.

Now it means that the leaves fall (and I have to rake them up). It’s really cold (and I have to pay the heating bill). And it’s time to start cooking gumbo again. For three children, who would rather I just grill up some hot dogs?

The first year he was gone, I came up with a brilliant plan of combining my need for leaf-raking and my friends’ need for gumbo into one “fun” little party. How about…a LEAF RAKING PARTY! That’s right! I’ll cook, you guys come over, rake my leaves, and then all of the kids can jump in them and play and have a great time!

My friends learned a hard lesson that year. That just because the word “party” is at the end of a phrase, doesn’t make it fun. And a bowl of gumbo doesn’t quite make up for the 18 bags of leaves they stuffed and hauled to the curb while all of our children watched with interest from the porch.

Fast forward to me the next year, out in the yard, alone, trying to get leaves stuffed in bags in hurricane-like winds. While my kids watched with interest from the cozy innards of the house.

I know I should be out of the “angry” phase of my grief by now, but every year, as I stack 1800 pounds of firewood, I curse my husband with every splinter, every blister, every smashed thumb (well, technically I only have two, but you know what I mean).

The first year he was gone, I was still in my “I can do this!” phase, and nothing was going to stop me (especially since my friends wouldn’t call me back when I invited them to a Firewood Stacking Party). I eyed that mountain of wood, strapped on my MP3 player, and got to work, loading it onto a cart (because my gate is too small to fit a wheelbarrow through, of course) and stacking it neatly on the side of the house.

I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I was done. That is…until I had my parents over for dinner that night and bragged to my dad that I had stacked all 1800 pounds by myself.

He went outside, took a look at my stack and said, “Huh. Looks like only 1400 pounds to me.”

Thanks, Dad.

Now, a little less optimistic and a heckuva lot lazier, I look at that mound and wonder if the 10-year-old kid down the street would like to make some extra cash. I proved I could do it that first year. I’m over it.

I miss that “can do” attitude. Never mind that I was delusional. It was really helpful back then. It was what made me think I could tackle the snowblower for the first time. It didn’t occur to me, my first go around, that I had actually blown the snow twice because I had no idea how to aim that blower-thingy. The point was, I did it on my own.

Now, I just count on my southwest exposure to help me out. And if we have enough snow and I can’t get out for a few days…I really didn’t need to go anywhere that badly anyway.

I know you’re wondering what my point is to these stories. I don’t have one. At this point I’d be surprised if you’re still reading this.

I mean…shouldn’t you be out shopping?

Catherine Todd 2010

Catherine Tidd

More Articles Written by Catherine

Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit http://widowchick.blogspot.com


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  • Rose Gross says:

    Catherine, I share your thoughts,,,,,I still have those moments when I accomplish something that was normally done by my husband Kenny! I am woman and for about an hour I feel like I can take on the world and then reality sets back in and here I sit all by myself!