After we lit our Christmas tree this year, my nearly three-year-old daughter stood back and declared, “it’s bluetiful mommy!”
She didn’t realize it but her mispronunciation rang true. It is a blue Christmas. It’s a beautiful Christmas.
It is bluetiful.*
I am slowly, ever so slowly, starting to accept that bluetiful is the new normal. That the moments of greatest joy—like Christmas—are also moments that carry so much loss.
Often it is in the little unexpected things. As I was meticulously placing the lights on the Christmas tree, I stepped back to assess (and ask my daughter for her opinion, as though a three-year-old has opinions about tree light placement). Not satisfied by the gaps in light coverage, I removed all the lights and started over so I could get it just right. I then realized I was utterly and completely channeling my mother. I laughed and also shed a tear.
It was bluetiful.
As a kid I never understood all the sad Christmas songs. How could a holiday full of so much joy inspire so many sad tunes? And why did so many adults make such a fuss about the fact that I was so full of joy at Christmas time? How could it be so difficult, I used to wonder, to find the joy in the season?
Last year was a difficult Christmas. It was the second Christmas without my mom, and somehow it was much more difficult than the first year she was gone. I knew the first year would be hard. I expected difficult. But the second year, well I thought somehow it would magically all be OK again. And when it wasn’t, I was let down and angry.
This is the third Christmas without my mom. This year I am expecting the sad moments intertwined with the joy, like lights strung on the tree.
I know that I’ll tear up when I pull out the sweet Mickey Mouse ornament she purchased for me when I was not quite a kid anymore but not quite an adult.
I know that there be joy though, too. My daughter seems to have inherited my enthusiasm for the holiday. She marvels at the lights on houses, she points excitedly to any and all depictions of Santa Claus, and as she curls up on her pillow at night, she whispers “Santa Claus is coming!”
It is all so bluetiful.
I will do my best to delight in her unadulterated joy as I play (just a few) sad Christmas songs in the background. (And maybe even adjust the Christmas lights on the tree one last time.)
How is your holiday season going? I hope it lands gently for those who are missing loved ones. -Sarah