This has been a really rough year for me on a personal level, and the holidays are even tougher. For the first time in decades, I won’t hear my husband say “Merry Christmas” to me. I miss him. I still love him. And I wish he were still alive and well to celebrate with me and the rest of our family.
So, I went to a lovely “Blue Christmas” service last night for families who are having a tough time facing the holidays and found it really moving. For one part of the service, people were invited to bring up an ornament or memento of someone they’ve lost to place on a Christmas tree that will be displayed in a church alcove throughout the rest of the Christmas season.
My daughter’s photo doesn’t get the color quite right, but the item I hung is a glowing neon yellow and orange. I’d actually tried to find a baseball-themed ornament in the attic, but it was late at night and close to freezing in the attic that abuts the non-insulated roof. However, I did find the glowing neon yellow and orange item, which is kind of tired and worn and not at all the type of thing you’d ever find on a department-store tree. Yet every year Mike absolutely insisted that it had to go on the tree, along with another neon yellow and orange item. Hence, it does remind me of Mike, because it was kind of funny how he always defended the neon yellow and orange ornament, saying it had to go up.
But then I kind of lost it during the service. Here the priest was talking about how treasured all of the mementos are. And I look up there, and everyone else’s items are kind of white or silver or Christmas red. And then there’s the neon orange and yellow. And the memories of our laughing over Mike’s insistence that it go up, coupled with the priest’s comments, made me cry. I would give anything for Mike to still be with me, making the same jokes about having the neon orange and yellow item on the tree.
And that might have been okay. But then the irony of the whole thing and the inherent garishness of the item struck me as funny. So I’m trying not to laugh, because that would be inappropriate. I mean, I’m in church, right? At a service for families who are grieving, right?
But I definitely was losing the battle on the “don’t laugh” bit—so I’m covering it up by looking like I’m still crying. And then my daughters are really acting sweet and concerned. So I’m really, really trying to get the laughing under control.
At this point, I can’t help but think about Mike’s second-favorite sitcom episode. That’s the one from the Mary Tyler Moore show in which there’s a funeral for Chuckles the Clown.
But then, ugh, now I’m both crying and laughing. That’s because I remember how much Mike liked that episode and would always laugh whenever he talked about it.
So, bottom line: The service brought back memories and was cathartic—but not really in the way I’d imagined going in.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all some good nights and great memories.