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contemplating Christmas without Abby December 18, 2006

Posted by guinever in Christmas, family, grief, healing, life, loss.

This will be my second Christmas without my daughter Abby who died when she was two years old. Throughout the year, I am asked how I handle the holidays. Articles and books that I’ve read suggest that after the death of a child, you should change holiday traditions and make new ones so the past isn’t so painful. My daughter was only two so we didn’t have a whole lot of traditions established with her. So we’re not changing anything! We read Luke 2, then open presents one at a time while everyone else watches. That’s Christmas at our house every year. Sometimes, extended family members are present. And there’s always good food. It’s fun. When it was just the two of us, we went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

I think everyone who was in our living room for Christmas 2004 remembers the little girl who pulled out her pigtails while prancing in her black velvet dress and tights. She carefully opened all the little pots, pans, and plates that went with her kitchen. And the dollies! It was the year of the doll. Her Grandma gave her a doll. Her other Grandma gave her a doll. And one of her great-Grandmas gave her a doll. I’m glad I didn’t get her one.


As Christmas approached last year, I contemplated a certain box in the attic that contained a stocking with Abby’s name on it. For months, I dreaded opening that box and seeing it. Thinking about it made me nauseous. I wondered if we should hang it on the mantle with the others. After discussing it with my husband, I decided to go ahead and put it out.

The following is what I wrote a year ago after putting out the Christmas decorations with the boys:

Caleb pulled a stocking out of the box and asked if it were Mary’s. Alex looked at it and said that it was Abby’s. Caleb then hung all 6 on the fireplace. Alex sat down in the rocker, dazed. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said he was thinking about his stocking and he was so excited. Then he said that he was looking at Abby’s stocking too and that made him sad. Then he began to cry. I pulled him to the floor with me and we cried together (a first). I asked him if he thought it was ok that we hung Abby’s and yes, he wanted it to hang there. He missed her. Later, Alex told his dad that he didn’t get a chance to put any ornaments on the tree because he was lying on the floor crying, looking at Abby’s stocking.

This year has been a little easier in that I haven’t experienced months of dreading Christmas. Alex asked if we would put out Abby’s stocking. Then he asked if he could put a picture in it for her. He thought it would be a good idea because she didn’t need any presents since she wasn’t here to open them…So he found a picture of him and Abby and signed the back. Later, when a friend was visiting us, he gave her a piece of scrap paper and told her to sign it so he could put it in her stocking.

I probably wouldn’t have even decorated at all if it had been just me and Todd. But I feel I have to for the kids. Life goes on. We must be festive, right? We hosted our church’s Christmas party, so that gave me enough incentive to get everything done. So how am I handling this Christmas? So far, just one stocking, one day at a time.



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