Thursday, December 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Blue Christmas

This throwback is from December 9, 2009, the first time I wrote about "Blue Christmas".  Repeating this post has become a holiday tradition for this blog, because not everyone has a happy holiday season.

In 2015, our family (inlaws) experienced holiday death in the family again. My brother in law's mother in law passed away right after Thanksgiving.  An aunt's sister died on Thanksgiving Day (November 26) .

I was so tired, for various reasons, that I never even decorated last year.

My writing has become more polished over the years but I am not going to do any editing.  This voice from the past is speaking to me, and I hope its message will help some of my readers.

Here's the post from 2009.

Tis the Season....for Sadness

Happy Holidays!

No, that's not true.

The holidays are not happy for everyone. 

11 years ago December 25.....  Spouse and I were at my in-laws on Christmas Day.  They live about 150 miles from where we live.  We had a nice day with other family members, and settled down to watch "It's a Wonderful Life"  with my mother in law and father in law.  Then we went to bed.

My father in law never woke up.  He died during the night of a massive heart attack, his third.

Imagine my mother in law, spending the day after Christmas arranging for the funeral of her husband of nearly 50 years.    The decisions that had to be made quickly, oh so quickly.  The little things, like flowers being almost impossible to come by (flowers being a part of their culture's funeral tradition).  Or us having to borrow clothes for the funeral-most people don't visit for Christmas with black clothes in their suitcase!  Those little details, in a sea of all the major details, on a holiday weekend.

The family gathered again but this time for a much sadder occasion.  Many people came to the funeral home, and it was a great comfort.  But then everyone had to go home, including us.

And then the next Christmas rolled around.  It was not easy.  But we survived, and each year it became easier.  My mother in law has established her independence, and enjoys Christmas with family.

It never goes away but it does become easier.  Although, I have never watched "It's a Wonderful Life" again.

Years ago I worked with someone whose husband died from cancer on Thanksgiving.  In my youth I couldn't understand why Thanksgiving was so hard for her.

Now I understand.

"Blue Christmas" is more than an Elvis song.  For those who have experienced loss:  loss of a loved one, loss of a relationship, loss of a job, the holidays can be so hard to survive, even if you are not a Christian.  Wherever you go, you are surrounded by smiling Santa's, by holiday decorations, by endless carols blaring at work, at the supermarket, at the mall, by constant reminders that everyone is happy.  Except you.

But, you are not alone.  And you will get through it, although it may take a long time.

Time is your friend.  It was for me.  I hope it is for you.


  1. I can totally relate to this. December 24, 1980. I am pregnant with my third son and my due date is December 27. I am hosting Christmas dinner. My parent's anniversary is December 26. At ten a.m. I learn that my father has died of a sudden heart attack. We are all a wreck making funeral plans. It was a trying time and took a few years to get over the Christmas blues. But somehow we all survive. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hmm. I guess that's way more normal than you think. A lot of people "rally" to make it to the holidays- almost.
    In my family, ever Jewish holiday is peppered with "Yahrzeit" (memorial of the day of death) prayers. Except for an uncle who married a Catholic woman- he died on Christmas Day and my mom (barely religious) who died on a new moon (minor Jewish holiday).

    Sorry for your loss. The good thing is that other family members were there to help assuage the loss!

  3. I understand, Alana. My paternal grandmother died before I was born, I never knew her. My father seldom talked about her, except on Passover. He'd say something along the lines of "She died, and then we went home and made a Seder." I never knew the full depth of how it affected him until he passed away last year, just after Rosh Hashanah. Yes, you're right. when a loved one dies near a holiday, our memories of that holiday and our feelings about that holiday are inevitably altered.

  4. Love and hugs, Alana. Rarely do we think of those who don't have the happy holiday everyone has. One of my friends' relative's demise was during a festive season, I can imagine what it's like every year for him. Nice of you to reach out to such people.

  5. Nicely done. I try and remember that many of those people, even when they look happy, are facing trials of their own. There is no better time to smile at a stranger for no reason.

  6. Saving this to share next year with a dear young woman who lost her dad on Thanksgiving week. Have a holiday full of love and wonderful memories.

  7. My boyfriend struggles with Christmas due to an Uncle being attacked and kicked with a hammer by someone breaking in his shed.

  8. So sorry. One Christmas day before we was about to set down to eat. A phone call came and a friend of family died.
    Coffee is on

  9. That's rough. Holidays have so much baggage with them, it's more common to be sad than not, I think.

  10. That's rough - to have a festive holiday marred by deep tragedy. To see smiling faces all around when your heart is breaking. Festive season also comes with a whole set of baggage I think, but not many people talk about it.

  11. I'm sorry to hear you've had loss over the holidays. It does make the time that's supposed to be joyful, a struggle instead.

    My son-in-law lost his paternal grandmother a year ago yesterday (12/13/15). My hubby is coming upon the 6-month anniversary tomorrow (6-15-16) of his brother's suicide. It's my 14th Christmas without my Dad and 5th Christmas without my Mom. Those empty chairs and empty places in our hearts always negatively impact holiday celebrations.

  12. Thank you for sharing, I am sorry for your loss. Christmas was the time of year my Mom and I spoke at least twice a week. We come from a very strong Czech heritage, traditions focusing on Christmas. Mom passed in 2015. Last year was impossible, this year a bit better.


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