A MELANCHOLY CHRISTMAS - 1010 Park Place
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A MELANCHOLY CHRISTMAS

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The day after Christmas it will be eight years since James went for a walk and died, unexpectedly, of cardiac arrest. He was the glue that held our family together, and his death was devastating for all who loved him. A few weeks before he died his son dropped out of law school and was hoping Dad would “fix things.” Instead of healing and fixing, there were “instances of regret” that Christmas. In an attempt to make sure he’d never run the risk of hearing what Dad thought of him, I believe his son cut me out of his life. 

I haven’t heard from him since. 

In many ways I thought of him as my son, too. I loved and adored him. I was proud of him. When he was 11, he walked me down the aisle; the three of us went on a honeymoon trip together, and when I started crying on the way home because I didn’t want our trip to end, this precious boy put his arms around me and said, “Don’t cry. We’ll do this again.” I never had children, but with him I got to experience Little League games—I captured his home run with my camera—family ski vacations and Christmas… things I’d never known before. As a young man he called me every week from Afghanistan, and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, he came home from the Army to check on me.

Last summer when I was cleaning out my storage units, in a flash of melancholy I threw away all of the boxes marked “Xmas.” I can’t believe I did that because there were so many beautiful ornaments from my childhood and from my grandmother’s childhood like handmade paper dolls and small scrolls of old Christmas sheet music. That’s what losing your entire family on Christmas will do to you. The hurt is so deep you never want to feel that pain, again… 

…so I understand a son’s pain of losing his father and fearing he’d learn things he couldn’t bear to hear. 

For the last 10 years I’ve had either the Top Breast Cancer blog/website, or now I have the Top 10 Women Over 50 blog/website. I’ve been awarded these honors because in some way what I write resonates with all of you. I write about resilience and survivorship and being able to bounce back from most anything with a positive attitude. I’m transparent and share my feelings in hopes it will help just one of you. Throughout all of this you, my readers, my friends, have counted on me for encouragement and inspiration, and in return, you’ve cheered me on through the good and bad times. We give to one another, and for that, I’m grateful. Thank you.

Finding my Christmas spirit may be one of my toughest challenges, but I’m working on it. This was the first year since I lost my entire family that I’ve thought about buying a tree, but there aren’t any memories attached to new ornaments I would buy at random.

Every year since James died I’ve given each of my dear friends in my Bible study group a Christmas ornament. Some years I’ve bought myself the same ornament—a wooden cherub, blowing a trumpet and a beautiful gold cross—but they’re not enough to fill-up a tree. This week my sweet neighbor gave me a silver cross. It’s in my bedroom with my cherub, the ornament from my friends, Chuck and Joan, and the battery operated Christmas necklace I bought at Pier One. For now they will have to be enough.

Do the holidays sometimes make you melancholy? I hope not, but we need to know this, too, shall pass.

Love, Brenda

63 Comments

  • Monica D Sophie December 15, 2018 at 7:35 am

    This is what you need to do…..
    Buy a tree and invite all your friends to bring an ornament to decorate it. It is never to late to start a new tradition. Merry Christmas and God Bless. Life is too short to not pause and celebrate even if it isn’t the same as it once was. Wouldn’t your husband want you to celebrate? I hope you find Christmas again.

    • MARTHA RIKLIN December 15, 2018 at 9:35 am

      I look forward every week to read
      Your wonderful stories. Christmas can
      Be melancholy when we have lost
      Loved ones. So sorry for your loss
      And as you said this too shall pass.
      I purchased 2 jingle bell collars
      For my pups and when I see them
      Running I laugh. Try that!
      Merry Christnas Brenda!

      Martha

      • 1010ParkPlace December 19, 2018 at 4:34 pm

        That’s a fabulous idea, Martha!!! Annie and Lulu wearing jingle bell collars. How could you not smile? Brilliant. I so appreciate your terrific idea and that you look forward to reading my blog. Merry Christmas Martha! xoxox, Brenda

    • Mamavalveeta03 December 16, 2018 at 2:13 am

      I think that’s a wonderful idea, Monica!

      Brenda, you’ve got so many people that love you and want all the best for you. I know that Christmas will never be the same, but as a believer, Advent season is all about the hope we have for the one that is coming…the one that loves us so much that he gave up his life for us. There is HOPE. Let people love you and accept their kindness.

      Love you, dear one! XOX Val

      • 1010ParkPlace December 19, 2018 at 4:39 pm

        Val… Thank you for your sentiments. I always appreciate you and what you have to say. There is always HOPE… I’ve never given up hope for almost everything that’s happened in my life, and I look forward to the day when I meet the one who’s coming. FYI, I read your comment a couple of days ago and decided to accept someone’s kindness… An invitation to another city but I couldn’t make it work this week or next, but I will in the near future. Without your suggestion, I wouldn’t have done that, so thank you! I’m going to reach out more and say “yes” more. Thank you!! Love, Brenda

        • Mamavalveeta03 January 5, 2019 at 2:23 am

          So happy to read this! I’ve thought about you endlessly over the Christmas holiday. Much love.

    • Beth Fox December 18, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      Precious Brenda, thank you for your honesty. I wish I lived near you I would include you in my holidays. I wish that having family meant you were never alone for the holidays but it doesn’t. I don’t understand why families do not seem to make the effort anymore. True there are precious families who love spending time together and make every effort to enjoy the company. For some reason that didn’t happen in our family. I don’t understand why. This year I didn’t put up my tree. Also kind of melancholy though I celebrate the season and am so grateful for Christ’s birth.
      Even so, I am praying you will have a delightful time with cherished friends. Much love, Beth

      • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 10:23 am

        Sweet Beth, I sometimes think this “me-centered” social media world we live in has given rise to a society that cares more about themselves than those around them. By definition, “selfies” exclude everyone but “self,” and yet, there are those for whom family is everything. That was missing from my family of origin and it sounds like yours as well. Like you I’m grateful for Christ’s birth, and I celebrate that every day. I’m sharing Christmas with friends, old and new, and in locations I never dreamed of being. Perhaps you and I can put up a tree next year and celebrate with family of choice… friends. Much love to you as well, Brenda

    • Brenda Coffee December 19, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks for the idea and the encouragement Monica!! Awesome suggestion! xoxox, Brenda

    • LIMOM January 5, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Yes to this. When my boyfriend (now husband) first started getting our own tree, we had a tree trimming party. This was in NYC and friends would go all out on the ornaments. Two decades later we pull out ornaments and can remember the friends who gave them to us. Those difficult memories will never go away, but if you create new ones it will give you something joyful to focus on.

      Happy 2019 to you.

  • Fil December 15, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I am so very sorry for your losses – my grandmother died on Christmas day nearly 40 years ago and my mother has never got past that – so every Christmas is a day of mourning for her and makes it hard for everyone around her. But I still insist on putting up my Christmas tree with all the ornaments I have collected down the years. It reminds me of that Christmas day when granny died – I was living abroad and all the expats gathered together in one couple’s apartment – I don’t think I even knew their names. They had a massive Christmas tree packed with ornaments, all of which were small gifts for each of us who were without family that year. At the end of the party the tree was empty and each one of us went home with a small memento – for years and years I kept the wind up bath toy I got. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my gran but a new tradition began which I maintain to this day – she was a lovely woman who lived in poverty her entire life, but she wouldn’t have wanted so much gloom to spoil a day for family – whether that’s the family you’re born into, or the one you gather around you. Now there’s always a Christmas ornament on the tree for everyone who comes to my house over the holiday. I hope you find some joy this year. Really enjoying your blogs.

    • Brenda Coffee December 19, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Fil, I don’t want to be like your mother… sad at Christmas for decades to come. I hope she finds a way to get past that. I have lots of encouragement and am determined to do that. Many of the years since my husband died I’ve been happy and joyous. Not sad at all. Not sure what it is about this year that’s gotten me. Christmas is a great time to create memories, and the expats certainly did that. I imagine it was special for all who came and celebrated together. The most wonderful thing about your story is you’ve built on that tradition by giving everyone who comes to your home an ornament. I LOVE THE SENTIMENTS AND LOVE BEHIND THIS KIND GESTURE! I’d like to join you by carrying on that tradition as well. In fact… I’ve made a note on my calendar for Christmas 2019. I’m going to a friend’s home over Christmas so it’s a little late for me to do a tree/clean up this year, but next year… You’ve inspired me! Thank you, Fil, and I’m grateful you like my blogs. xoxox, Brenda

  • Rosalie December 15, 2018 at 8:04 am

    I have been reading and enjoying your blog for a few months now and I need to send you a warm hug as well as a prayer that the young man will reach
    out to you. So what if it is hurtful moment…..it will be precious. I am very sorry about the loss of James; it is hard to have to face death of a beloved
    one anytime but it does seem to hurt a touch more when there is a holiday attached to the time line. Think about FIL’s idea.

    • Brenda Coffee December 19, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Dear Rosalie, Thank you for your warm hug. I feel it and am grateful. I’m grateful so many people enjoy my blog and reach out to me. As I wrote this week it’s a two-way street. We give to one another. I’m taking it all in and welcoming your suggestions and have already marked next year’s calendar to put up a Christmas tree, have a party, invite people to bring an ornament and have one to give them in return. Blessings and love to you, Brenda

  • jean c December 15, 2018 at 8:05 am

    It’s hard for me to imagine any family not having a twinge of melancholy at Christmas time. It may not help, Brenda, but melancholy is a shared, universal emotion on this day. How can anyone not think about the joys without the regrets, the happiness without the sorrows, the blessings without the losses? Our losses and regrets are also the fabric of our personalities, just as success and joy is. Monica is right – start a new tradition that is uniquely yours. And remember to celebrate throughout the year as well. All my wishes for a very happy Christmas.

    • Brenda Coffee December 19, 2018 at 5:12 pm

      Jean, What a blessing you and Monica are and everyone who’s left me such sweet and loving comments. You’re right about Christmas/Hanukkah being a melancholy time for so many people. The year is ending and we find ourselves thinking about things we could have done better and missing those who are no longer here. I don’t think we focus on that enough. We skip through that part to New Year’s where we focus on what our goals are for the new year… Almost always the old year is tied to the new year in some way. You’ve dropped another gem in your much appreciated note… “Remember to celebrate throughout the year as well.” You’ve given me an ah-ha moment to ponder. I’ve written it down on a green Post It note and have attached it to my computer screen with your name on it… Maybe we can think of ways, together, to do that. AWESOME!!! Love, Brenda

  • Victoria December 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I hear you about loss and Christmas. This is a touching and poignant post. Having been through Christmas deaths (plural), it makes for a challenging season. Gradually, I’ve been able to find the joy again. This year I put up a tree and decorated it with the few ornaments I have saved. I also dehydrated thin slices of fresh orange in the oven and hung them on the tree and tucked baby’s breath in also. The orange slices glow with the little white lights behind them reminding me of the spirits of my loved ones. God bless!

    • Brenda Coffee December 19, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      Dear Victoria, I’m sorry you’ve experienced more than one Christmas death… That’s so very difficult. I have a sweet friend who’s getting divorced this week/next and that’s a death she will think about and grieve for a long time as well. Your idea of dehydrating thin slices of fresh orange, together with baby’s breath and tiny white lights is beautiful and meaningful. I’m going to do that next year when I get a tree. BTW, I’m making notes of everyone’s poignant and thoughtful suggestions. I can tell you now… There will be lots of oranges and baby’s breath on my tree! Thank you sweet lady! God’s blessings to you as well. Love, Brenda

  • holly December 15, 2018 at 8:20 am

    thank you for this gift of permission to feel a spot of gloom as the holidays swirl into action. I lost my father at the end of October, 1960 when his plane fell from the sky leaving my mother, sister and I walking alone through grief. My memory of that first Christmas without him is full of sadness staring out the window at the snow. My mother remote, hell, emotionally vacant. My sister a zombie. Members of his company brought gifts but our house and hearts were still cold from the hole left in the heavens.
    Growing, marrying and having daughters of my own, I worked hard to create Christmas in our home. Green and red everywhere. Cookies in the oven. Old movies. Too many presents under the tree. The girls are grown now and my husband, the original Grinch, make it just we two in our little senior community home. I have never truly gotten over that Christmas of 1960. I chase the gloom as best I can but there is always that hole in the heavens…

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 10:43 am

      Holly, Beautifully written. It sounds like you were a little girl when your father died, and the pain of your father’s loss was imprinted on your soul. Ever since you’ve associated that time of the year with loss. Me, too. My father died when I was 12. Mother and I role reversed because she couldn’t cope with anything. My first husband didn’t celebrate Christmas, so the only real Christmas I’ve had was my years with James and his family. The hole will always be there, but you and I must deliberately make a point of filling it for ourselves. Not for anyone else but ourselves. Thanks to the comments on this blog, I’ve decided to put up a tree next year and invite friends to bring an ornament and have a party. I like that idea… Making my own tradition instead of having a gaping hole. Only you know what will help you, but perhaps you don’t ask for permission from the Grinch, because this isn’t for him. It’s for you but maybe he’ll get something out of it as well. Love, Brenda

  • Laureen December 15, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Christmas is difficult without family to share it with ~ memories, joy, festivities but dear friends can be the family that fill that void. I know you have those especially dear girlfriends that are as dear as family to you. Consider the idea Fil offered, it could be the beginning of a healing Christmas tradition for. Without blood family, I am blessed to have special friends who include me in THEIR family celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I wish the same healing for you, Brenda.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Thank you, Laureen… Are you “my” Laureen? LOL! If so I know you’ve done a great job of creating family with your dear friends. I’m celebrating Christmas with old friends and new ones, and I’m grateful and excited about that. I would like to heal “the hole,” as Holly wrote, but regardless, there will always be a scar. Love, Brenda

  • Diane December 15, 2018 at 9:08 am

    My heart aches for you. I, too have thrown out ‘memories’ mistakenly thinking they’d never matter to me again.
    But they do.
    Keep making new memories. Eventually, you will accumulate enough that the old, painful ones cease to be as painful!

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 10:49 am

      Dear Diane, Love seeing you here and “visiting you” as well. I’m sorry you’ve thrown away memories as well. What were we thinking? Almost everything of any substance will always matter to us. Thanks for your encouragement… for everyone’s encouragement here. I’ve vowed to make my own traditions! xoxox, Brenda

  • Barbara December 15, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Brenda, I agree with Monica. Get a tree and invite your friends to help you decorate it and celebrate the season. It could be a brand new tradition and, that’s a good thing.
    We have 2 sons who don’t speak to each other. It makes the holidays awkward, for sure, but we all get through it. My Christmas wish is to have them get over whatever it is that caused this feud and think about uniting their children, cousins, who should know each other. But, I have no say in this. So we have separate holiday celebrations with them and, hope for a better celebration next year. Who knows? Life is tricky sometimes.
    I wish you peace and love this holiday season, Brenda.
    xob

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Dearest Barbara, A division in the family is so heartbreaking, especially for the parents, but you’re wise to know your grandchildren are missing out on something special as well. I know someone else whose sons are separated, but ironically, it’s one of the sons who talks to me about it. It’s painful for all concerned. Too bad there isn’t a “magic room” somewhere you can lock them both in and not let them out until they’ve settled their differences. Sending you love and peace in your household, Brenda

  • Lori December 15, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Praying you and your son reunite. Praying this is the year outreach on your part will be returned on his part. May you experience peace and unexpecteed joy this Christmas season.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 10:56 am

      Thank you for your prayers and sweet wishes, Lori. “Peace and unexpected joy… ” That sounds like a perfect Christmas. Merry Christmas to you, xoxox, Brenda

  • Eileen December 15, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I understand, I have not had children, and my family isn’t close, so holidays aren’t easy for me either. I guess it’s the time I remember what I don’t have family wise. I have good friends and a husband, but for some reason, family blood matters, maybe our animal instincts kicking in. Being part of a family meant survival and safety, so maybe we feel less safe instinctually? I spend the holidays looking for things that intrigue me, engage me, and pull me, and sometimes do completely silly things, maybe that’s my safety zone? We are honored to have loved ones in our life, so, missing them is to honor them, possibly? We all need you, and your thoughts, thank you.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Hello Eileen! You’ve written wise words here, and I think you’re right. Blood family, especially, is anchored to our DNA, and the loss of one of them is more than about grief. It’s an instinctual pain and feeling of isolation. My first husband didn’t celebrate Christmas so we found other ways to engage ourselves, often traveling with friends. Sometimes spontaneous trips to unusual places. One of the best Christmas’s I “didn’t celebrate” was to Key West, FL with our friend Jerry. It was memorable for sure! Thank you for your support, for reading my blog and leaving me messages. You are appreciated dear Eileen! xoxox, Brenda

  • Patti December 15, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. This time of year is so hard for a lot of people and knowing that they are not alone can really make a difference. Hope you find some peace and maybe a little joy this year.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Thank you, Patti. The comments from all of you have created an ah-ha moment for me because I realize just how many people find the holidays to be painful and difficult. I have terrific friends who’ve scooped me up and take me along with them, and I love and am grateful for them. I hope you’re not one of those for whom the holidays are tough. Wishing you all God’s blessings, Brenda

  • Deborah December 15, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Brenda, as your friend (even if it is only a blog friendship it still counts) may I suggest that you reach out to this young man? All he can say is no, if you don’t try, you will never know if he still thinks of you as you do him. It would give you closure one way or the other. As far as Christmas goes, it is what you make of it. If I sound blasé I don’t mean to but I lost my dad two days after Christmas some years ago and my father-in-law committed suicide about the same time years later so I get it but I learned as a young woman that Christmas is what you make it. Put up a small tree with pet ornaments on it for your puppies, or serve Christmas dinner at the Salvation Army, sometimes doing for others gets your mind off of your own problems and it does help your moral. You are a strong, intelligent, talented , lovely lady who has a lot to offer this world and don’t you forget it. Who knows, you might just meet someone who makes you smile and whose company you enjoy. I am rooting for you. So now, how about that little tree I was discussing…..

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 11:14 am

      Deborah… “About that little tree… ” What a love you are, and yes… You and I are friends. Some of my best friends I’ve met on their blog or mine. You’ve really been hit with tragedy and loss at Christmas. Loss that’s so difficult to comprehend. I’m sorry. Interesting you mention the Salvation Army because after my first husband died, I would go downtown and serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless. Something that gets us out of ourselves is a surefire way to snap us out of our own pity party and makes us feel needed and grateful for where ever we are in life at that moment. Thank you for reminding me of that. Christmas is almost upon us and I have out of town plans. Maybe this is a copout for not putting up a little tree, but because of all of your comments, my friends, I’ve started a folder about next year’s tree and how I’m going to celebrate the season. Thank you for your encouragement and well wishes. I wish you love and a magical Christmas, Deborah! xoxox, Brenda

  • Hilda Smith December 15, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    Brenda I agree with Deborah, try one last time to get in touch with your step son and as Monica suggested have your friends around and start a new tradition. Hugs xxx

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 11:26 am

      I love seeing you here, Hilda, and that dress you posted today on IG is gorgeous on you! Thank you for your encouragement and your hugs! They are appreciated more than you know, and I’ve vowed to start my own traditions, so thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Judi December 15, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss and for the sadness it brings. My husband of _50 years passed away two months ago. I put up a tree with white lights and just a few white stars…minimalistic_! Not the same tree decorations we always had….but the best I could do for this year.
    My prayers are with you…that your stepson will contact you…because you both deserve to be together again.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 11:31 am

      Judi, Your loss is still settling in. I’m sorry for you… Fifty years… I can’t imagine. That must be like losing your right arm, half of your brain and your heart and to be brave enough to put up a tree… You inspire me, Judi. Truly. I stand in awe. It will soon be eight years for me, and I’m still melancholy… Enough!! I’m taking a lesson from you… from all of you. Thank you, sweet lady. My prayers are with you as well. Love, Brenda

  • TJ December 15, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Dear Brenda, this is a tough time for you, and may I say, many others too. It’s because we attribute this Christian season to resonate with traditions that we either grew up with or made ourselves as we became adults. I am going to attribute the following words to Lisa from Privilege who put these words on her blog today: “Maybe Christmas is about holding each other close through the bleak mid-winter”. http://amidprivilege.com/2018/12/christmas-flying-home-saturday-morning-821am/#comment-1373343

    Personally I like this idea. Our forebears who also had uncertain Christmases (e.g., my grandmothers lived through 2 world wars, lost loved ones, raised children single-handedly) but the point was to keep each other safe through the cold and see that they survived. They brought greenery inside to remind them that the spring would come again once the snow receded. I know you have people to hold you close through this bleak mid winter. We are all here, sharing our own stories of love and loss and melancholy. Boxing Day is always a day of depression for me. I miss so many of my relatives, my grandmother included, and the parents I would have loved to be different people to give me the love and the kind of Christmases I dreamed of as a child, but who were selfish and self centred and couldn’t have made a tradition if they had a map and a GPS. Many sad childhood Christmases. After the presents have been opened and the (feuding) children pack off home, and the husband escapes to the golf range, I am left empty again. So you see, even those of us with families still need our girlfriends to hold us close. I find it a comfort to read other’s stories here of loss and sadness, because it makes me feel more normal, as if we are all sharing our losses in a way. Sometimes everybody hurts.

    One final word. Phooey to tradition. We live in a time when all things need to be revisited. If old traditions no longer suit, drop them. My old tree and the ornaments were full of painful memories. I replaced it when we downsized to our apartment with a smart new one, complete with led lights. I just add coloured baubles all over it, it in different colour schemes depending on my fancy. This year is dark blue and silver. Plain and uncomplicated and definitely not emotional. Maybe you did the right thing after all, letting those childhood things go. Maybe they would have only served to be stark reminders of times that actually when you drill down, not as happy as you first thought.

    Holding you close.

    TJxxxx

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      TJ, You are, indeed, a wise woman who writes well. I, too, find it comforting and sad, yet interesting that so many people have loss and family issues that make Christmas difficult for them. I particularly appreciate that when all is said and done with your Christmases, you are left empty. Alone. Again. I love your analogy about our forbearers. Life was much harder for them, and they required a constitution of grit and determination to keep going, no matter what. Family survival, in every way possible, is dependent on women, and thank goodness we’re good at relating to, and helping, one another get through the tough times. “Holding each other close through the bleak mid-winter.” Women supporting women. So smart of you to downsize and not rely on old traditions because for many of us… They only serve to heighten our loss or our present situation. And you’re right… my ornaments would have reminded me of happier times which would be in stark contrast to my life now. That’s why I threw them away in the first place, so thanks to you… I see that I did the smart thing. Now I’m totally free to create what works for me at this point in my life. Holding you close as well, sweet friend. Thank you! Love, Brenda

  • Another Brenda December 15, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Yesterday my little dollhouse club friends got together and decorated miniature Christmas trees, so coming home and putting my tree in my dollhouse felt so very good.. It’s probably the only decorating I will do this year, but is already more than have done the past few years. At this stage of my life I have lived through several different holiday traditions with various sets of family. Now I am the oldest living person on my dad’s side of the family.. and live far away from any relatives. I am blessed to still have my precious husband with me tho, and he’s my beloved treasured ornament to my life every day. I do know just how blessed I am to have him. Joy to the World!! I have so much to be thankful for this year..

    Brenda, you are blessed with the talent to reach out to people with loving kindness and you are a real treasure to those of us who follow your blog all year. Thank you for being here, and Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays!) to you!

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Dear Brenda! Thanks for reading my blog and for reaching out and introducing yourself. I don’t meet many Brendas. Decorating a dollhouse sounds like fun! It’s life as we’d like it to be or a look at another life free of complications. I have much to be thankful for, every day of the year, and I am. I’m grateful for friends, online… like you… and off. I think it’s the lack of family that gets to me sometimes, but I consider many of my friends my family. What a blessing! Your words are kind and loving, and I appreciate them and you for taking the time to share a bit of yourself as well! Merry Christmas! xoxox, Brenda

  • Debbie December 15, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Hey……Sweet Friend……
    Don’t have to shop…..I have enough ornaments for your tree and mine.
    Come over and we will enjoy a Tupperware Dive……
    I lost my family last year too…….so it’s pretty quite around here too!
    Times change, life changes, but, finding the joy in what God Blesses us with makes everyday a celebration!
    You are one of My Many Blessings!! ❤️

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      Dear Debbie, LOL! I have no doubt you have the best stash of Christmas ornaments on the planet. You forget I’ve seen your closet!!! You are one of my blessings as well. Thank you, sweet friend. Love, Brenda

  • Ruth Wyllie December 16, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Oh Brenda, this post saddens me. I feel sad for you and your husband’s son. You are both hurting. Christmas has an awful habit of dredging up and accentuating painful memories. It’s the nature of the beast. I am in a similar position to you and after years of torturing myself I have finally said enough now. I can’t change things but I have accepted and moved on. I feel free. I hope you can too.
    Don’t feel bad about throwing your baubles away, they’re only stuff. Real memories live on in your heart.
    As someone else said, start a new Christmas tradition. Bring it on.
    I have used your phrase so, so many times – ‘This too will pass’ and everything does, good or bad.
    With love xx

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Dear Ruth, Christmas accentuates whatever we’re feeling. A friend of mine just got engaged and he and his fiancé are over the moon with happiness and excitement. I’m sorry to hear that in some way, you know the pain of what I’m feeling. It’s like going down on the Titanic and the rescue boats went off without you. I’m glad I wrote this post because all of you have shown me I need to create my own traditions and look at this time of year in a different light. Thank you, sweet lady! Love, Brenda

  • Alana December 16, 2018 at 8:19 am

    I can’t possibly add to the sweet comments already received, except to say I’ve experienced Christmas loss before and this year I have again, with my mother in law passing away on Black Friday and then (unexpected) one of my husband’s cousins (whom I’ve known for almost 50 years) this past Tuesday. So I will just echo several of your commenters and suggest you reach out to your stepson. My best friend was estranged from her daughter (and, hence, a granddaughter) all through the four long years the friend journeyed with her cancer. Now, three years after her passing, I’m so happy to discover that her husband and the daughter have reconciled, or, at the very least, have a relationship again on Facebook. Nothing can be sadder, I think, than to lose a child in this way. I saw it secondhand, meaning I’ve never known that pain. Perhaps, after all these years, he is ready to return and maybe has never found the way back to you. If you reach out and it doesn’t succeed, you tried. I hope so you can reconnect.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Thank you, Alana, for wise words that come from your losses and the losses of your best friend. I’m happy you’re friend and his family are finding their way back to one another. xoxox, Brenda

  • Judy Freedman December 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    This time of year is hard for me too. On Tuesday, it will be 11 years since I lost my husband. I’m sorry for your loss. The grief hits me each year and some how I manage to get through it and I know you will too. I do agree that you should get a tree and celebrate the good memories. Buy a small tree and use the ornaments you have and add one more each year to honor your new life. Be strong. Namaste.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Judy… Eleven years and you’re still grieving… I’m sorry. That loss will always be with us, and yes we get through. Some years have been downright easy. Grief is an unpredictable emotion, isn’t it? Thank you for your suggestions and support. I’m sending love your direction, Brenda

  • Liz Comuzzi December 17, 2018 at 8:32 am

    I have read several times your account of your husband’s death and the aftermath of your step-son not continuing to have a relationship with you. The death of a loved one is often very difficult especially an unexpected death. You did not get to say goodbye and now must find other ways to do this critical piece in the grieving process.
    I have heard you speak often about your love affair with James and I have to question, do you think James would want you to publically show a side of his son’s personality that is less than stellar? Publically, shaming James’ son is honestly not honoring James.
    There are always 2 sides to a story and somewhere in the middle lies the truth. In saying this, I also encourage you to reach out to James’ son and finally either put closure or open possibilities for a relationship.
    I really encourage you to continue to write about your husband but in saying this, leave the negative dialogue about his child out. When speaking negatively about your stepson, you are not honoring your family memories but more importantly, you are not honoring yourself.

    • TJ December 19, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Wow, I’m guessing you’re a Travel Agent – specialising in Guilt Trips, or to the peaks of Moral High-ground. How’s the weather up there? Chilly, I’m guessing…

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 1:45 pm

      Dear Liz, I appreciate your comment and your thoughts. I haven’t conveyed anything James didn’t say when he was alive–I’ve understated it by orders of magnitude–and every family member and person who was on the sidelines to witness… there were hundreds of people at James’s memorial, saw it for themselves and still bring it up to me. It was a very public “distancing of me” for all to see. I imagine James’s “child”–who’s in his mid-30s–is tormented by those last days, just as James was, and I am. It’s sad for all. Brenda

  • Sally December 17, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I feel that this is the time of year that we all feel some sense of loss. I miss my parents a great deal and get quite weepy at times. As to the ornament opportunity. When I travel I always try to pick up an ornament from the place I am at. This way each Christmas when I decorate my tree I remember all the interesting places I have been.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Sally, What a wonderful idea to buy ornaments that reflect your travels. I’m learning that Christmas is more than celebrating the birth of Jesus. It’s a sad time for many people. More than I could have imagined. Wishing you a strong and happy Christmas, Brenda

  • Victoria December 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Brenda, you are my hero for all that you have been through and yet you keep on keeping on. This is a hard Christmas for all of our family because of husbands cancer. The chances are high this will be our last Christmas with him so everything is important. Because husband has stomach cancer he eats nothing and is fed by tube and this time of year highlights so much because it is centered around food. It will be interesting to see how this Christmas influences the rest of our Christmass’.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Victoria, Your Christmas is much harder than mine. You and your family are literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I hope you draw strength from one another and from God and find your way through all of the difficult days to come. My first husband died of cancer, so I know what it’s like, knowing you’re going to lose him. Be kind to yourself this Christmas. I hope you don’t “over do” too much in an attempt to compensate or make things easier for those around you. Love, Brenda

  • Haralee December 17, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    My heart aches for you and wants to help! It is a tough time of year for many. What about a little Charlie Brown tree for your ornaments? I wish you all the best for a happy and healthy 2019.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Haralee… You’re cute!! A Charlie Brown tree. Actually I’ve seen some small, live Christmas trees at the grocery store and have thought about getting one. Since I’m so far into the holiday and will be staying with friends, I’ve decided to take everyone’s suggestions and create new traditions next year. Thank you!! I wish you the best as well, sweet lady! xoxox, Brenda

  • Pam Christmas December 17, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    This was such a beautiful post and so insightful and psychologically astute in understanding this son whom you helped raise and whom you still love. My Christmas wish for you is that he, at some point in the near future, reaches out to you, that you might sit and talk and laugh, share memories, your time with his Dad, your late husband. A friend says we actually enjoy the melancholy of the season. I would say sometimes true but not always.

    • Brenda Coffee December 20, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Dear Pam, There’s something to be said for enjoying the melancholy of the season. Perhaps it occurs naturally because we associate Christmas with family and memories of holidays past. Thank you for your well wishes… I appreciate them and you, Brenda

  • Jeannette December 26, 2018 at 9:46 am

    New to your blog Brenda. Very touching post. Reading back on some of your older entries, you are one brave lady. It sounds like you are surrounded with very supportive friends which says a lot.
    Take good care

    • Brenda Coffee December 27, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      Welcome, Jeannette! I’m thrilled you’ve become part of our family! I have the best readers EVER. Some get to be friends with one another here on my blog, which is amazing. I’m blessed to have great friends. With one exception–my late husband’s son–I have every friend I’ve ever made. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 23 of my friends texted and wished me well. How special! I appreciate your comment and look forward to seeing you here again. Brenda

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