My mother in law is a Widow of Christmas.
We watched "It's a Wonderful Life" with my mother and father in law on the evening of Christmas, 1998. My father in law, who had suffered 2 previous heart attacks and had bypass surgery 4 years ago, went to bed and died from a heart attack during the night. He had only retired from work 2 weeks before.
We still gather for Christmas each year. The house, once decorated in his style, is decorated in hers. And yes, she has stayed in that house, now with help, but she is still there.
My mother in law never talks about what she goes through every Christmas, at least not to me or her son. But she is far from the only Christmas Widow. Christmas can be suffocating in our culture. It has become much more a commercial holiday than a religious celebration of a birthday special to Christians and I, for one, do not think that is a good thing.
Christmas is a holiday where you are supposed to be merry but some people think of it in a different way. With whatever happened in their lives there is an edge to the joy. I remember working for many years with a woman whose first husband died on Thanksgiving Day. It never totally leaves you.
It has certainly made me a lot more aware of the people who "fall" through the cracks of the holidays for one reason or another. We need to remember them, and include them in our celebrations and in our plans.
In my in-law family there is one less tradition. What about that wonderful Frank Capra movie? I've never watched that movie, once one of my favorites, since that night.