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Expert Blog

Holiday Ghost

December 21, 2015

With the holidays upon us, I miss Jim helping with decorations. I miss his opinions on what we should get for the kids, friends and family. I miss him being part of our traditions.

The kids and I went to tag our tree and he wasn’t there for the first time. We will bring that same tree home and he won’t be there to help haul it in, set it up in the tree stand or put the lights on. And when I open our boxes of ornaments, all of his will sit in a pile, and I will encourage the kids, with as much light and happiness as I can muster, to help me put all of Daddy’s ornaments on the tree.

We are starting that thing you do when someone dies….the first Thanksgiving without them, the first Christmas without them, the first New Year’s Eve without them. But Jim is still alive. He just isn’t with us. He is like a holiday ghost I see with each piece of wrapping paper and bow. His spirit is all around us, in every bulb and greenery I hang.

We are separated yet we are married. I can’t call him or text him. And he can’t surprise me with something special under the tree. We won’t snuggle next to the tree’s glow and take in the flames of the fire while listening to Christmas tunes.

He won’t drink eggnog and sneak chocolates while no one is looking. I won’t see his beautiful smile as I wrap the gifts. There is so much for our family to cherish and yet there is a huge part that is missing and makes the old traditions a little hard to get excited about.

I will shop alone (actually I have for a few years now) and remember the times we sat together, discussing each child and what would be the best surprises under the tree for them. I will listen intently in my mind to hear him singing along to the carols on the radio. I will glance longingly at his empty place at our table.

We will find solace in our memories while making some new ones with Jim in his new home. We have purchased a wreath and small tree for him and we will be merry and bright but there will always be a part of the equation missing that will cause me an underlying sadness.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. January 4, 2016 at 04:02 pm
    Posted by Charmaine Liang

    How old is Jim? My husband, Ron, is 64, his memory started deteriorating about 8 years ago, he has early onset of Alzheimers. It really is a difficult situation. On New Year's Eve he said to me "I wonder where Charmaine is?" Well, that sure gave me a fright as I thought of the New Year we're going into, don't have very much to look forward to....
  2. January 3, 2016 at 09:06 pm
    Posted by Rickey Geary

    Regarding Holiday Ghost...Get out those old photographs...take those old records off the shelf, put on some old time music. Watch for facial expressions...raising the brow...moving the eyes....talk of old times gone by many moons ago. God love You. I am a caregiver
  3. December 31, 2015 at 11:15 am
    Posted by Kate

    Hi. Read your blog regularly. Is Jim not able to "help"decorate the tree? I know he is in a facility, but I did not realize that his condition has deteriorated so much that he was unable to "visit" and do some things with you all. God bless you all.
  4. December 23, 2015 at 10:36 pm
    Posted by Sally-Anne Dooman

    This is all new to me. My husband's condition has been deteriorating for several years, now, but this is the first year that he hasn't taken part in any of our Christmas traditions. He understands what Christmas is, still, in the same way a child does except without the magic. Of course we have to review the plans for the season over and over each day as he does not remember. We can't share any of the joy of the season that we have in the past. I'm so sad, but I so appreciate others sharing their experiences. Thank you for your strength.

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