Christmas Eve has always felt pretty magical for my family. We all meet at my parents' house, kick off the holiday with mass (which I admit is the only time I go anymore except for weddings), come home for a nice dinner together, and open a few gifts. Christmas morning is always fun too, but by the time lunch rolls around on Christmas day, I always feel like the holiday is over.
I had planned not to attend Christmas Eve mass this year. People thought we were crazy for even planning to make it to my parents' house with a newborn baby and even more so, me still recovering from surgery. But we planned to. But I had thought church was not a good idea, didn't want to expose my 12 day old baby to germs, not to mention her need to eat whenever.
And so here we are, without that 12 day old baby. I keep thinking of her Christmas outfit, hanging with the tags still on in her closet.
And I'm still not at church. It's not about my beliefs in God as much as it is how I don't want to see other people, especially not babies or little girls, all dressed up in their finest. It's about how I don't want to hear about a little baby - even if that baby is Jesus. It's about how I can't imagine singing "Joy to the World" right now.
So the three of us, plus my brother, are huddling in at my parents' house. My brother is playing bartender and I'm grateful for the quiet time, along with the yummy drinks.
Still, I feel a little sad that I am missing one of my favorite parts of the holiday. I wonder if I am punishing myself.
It's this odd mix of wanting to enjoy the holiday - because as my sister said, who wants to be sad at Christmas? And also NOT wanting to enjoy the holiday. Because Lydie's not here and it just doesn't feel right. And how could I enjoy anything right now?
There's also a lot of guilt that comes in whenever I laugh or smile or catch myself having a moment of peace. It's like how I couldn't eat for the first few weeks (and still honestly don't have much of an appetite) - one other baby-loss mama wrote, "Why does self-care morph into a sense of betrayal to your baby?" I don't know, but it does.
I'll try to be present for my son tomorrow, try to find a few smiles when he opens gifts or chases his cousins around. Maybe being present in the most I can hope for right now. And when the small moments of joy peek through, I will try my hardest not to feel guilty for them.