It's funny, but as I think back on Christmases past, I can only remember vividly the Christmases as a married couple. This will be our fifth Christmas together as a married couple. Our fifth christmas in our 1st home together. As I think back before that, the memories are much fuzzier during the years of dating and being single.
We had been married for all of 6 months. We had learned of DH's diagnosis of stage 4 cancer just two weeks before Christmas. Having just recovered from the 1st surgery to diagnose and biopsy, a week before Christmas we had our first day (of what would be many) hanging out at the chemo center as DH received his IV meds. We felt raw and stripped bare and yet full of life and purpose all at the same time. The shock was tremendous not knowing what was ahead. The hope and despair equally as jolting. The comfort and support that surrounded us from our community- family and strangers- was life changing. That year, DH decided he wanted to sing xmas carols together- it is a tradition that we have continued every year. So I printed out a ton of songs from the internet, and we sat by the fire xmas day and sang carols, and held each other. I still have those same print outs that we used that Christmas.
The second Christmas I was home on break from grad school after living on campus far away from DH for nearly 3 months (we racked up lots of frequent flier miles during that time!!). It was wonderful to be home. DH was done with treatments (final surgery had been in June) and 6 months later, he finally had his umpf back. We traveled out of the country (the trip we had had planned for the previous xmas, but cancelled when he was diagnosed). We celebrated xmas with 150 friends and strangers at the most amazing xmas celebrations abroad ever.
Third Christmas 2007
Our third Christmas we rejoiced as we decorated the house for the first time. Year 1 we hadn't really decorated because we thought we would be out of the county for all of winter break, but instead ended up with doctors and chemo labs. Year 2 we were out of the country and so we didn't decorate, and so year three was a time to celebrate just being home. The simple things like hanging lights, telling stories about each xmas ornament we hung and how it came in to our lives. It also was the first year that my FIL was living in the same town as us and so it was the first year we celebrated xmas with more then just the two of us. DH shared his life story at our church's Longest Night service that year. The night that our church gathers to the light amidst the darkness in our life. He talked about the roller coaster of life- the ups and down- the tragedies and joys... and the roller coaster got even wilder for us that coming year....
Fourth Christmas 2008
Snow. Snowed in for days. Barely made it to the Christmas eve worship service. A quiet Christmas. We celebrated a 2nd year of having DH's father living near by. The grief was present as we had had our first miscarriage earlier that spring. The grief was magnified in that my baby sister had had her first child just before Thanksgiving, and the family was all together (across country in a different state than we live) oohing and aahing over the new grandchild over the phone. While the grief was there, and I was struggling with the fact that my estimated due date and the birth of my niece had come and gone and I was still not pregnant again. But I still mustered up some hope- assuming naively that the next time we got pregnant we would be home free.
Fifth Christmas 2009
I'll admit that the darkness has settled into my spirit even deeper this year. I find that when I click to my blog page, and see the About Me section, I have often gasped in disbelief when I realize "That is me, 2 miscarriages and 1 failed adoption in just over two years- that..is...me" It is hard to fathom that I have lived through all that. DH had to drag me kicking and screaming into the holiday spirit this year. I am glad that he did- he pulled out all the decorations and I watched, as the fire roared and the xmas music played, I felt my spirit lift a bit. We plan to see some friends, sing Christmas carols together in front of the fire place, hold each other a little bit tighter and muster up more hope for what the new year might bring.