It is "that time of year" again. The time where most people are celebrating the holidays, enjoying family and friends. Counting their blessings and sharing their plans for the new year with great enthusiasm. It occurred to me over the last week or so that even though my divorce is final. This year will be my second Christmas without my husband, and my children around me. I will be at work actually on Christmas Day, but I'm still present for the season. Last year was brutal. I'm reminded of a beautiful friend with whom I work who DEMANDED I stop by her house on my way home from work. I did not want to go; I did not want to fake happy; even for her sake and I tried so hard to be in the moment and be grateful. I was thankful; I sincerely was grateful even though the pain I felt seemed like certain death. I did reasonably well last year. I worked my 14-hour normal day, exhausted I made my way to her house. I arrived with dinner on the table, and we exchanged gifts. I left after spending a couple of hours and returned to my home which was empty, silent, and no sign of Christmas being anywhere. That was fine for LAST year. However, this year is going to be different. I decided over the summer that I would entirely force myself to find something about the holiday this year to enjoy. I don't mean go crazy and make my little new home look like something from Santa land, but I did intend on making some small holiday features. Sooooo, right before Thanksgiving, I put up my tree. All my holiday decorations are with my ex. I lost custody of those when I moved, and that is ok. It hurt me to remember those BUT here's where life became a little better.

My parents died seven years ago. One of the most gut-wrenching and life-changing events of my life (divorce included). Regardless, I decided to see if mom had any decorations I could use. What do you know? I found a few boxes tucked way in the back of a closet marked "birds" I pulled the boxes out and found some beautiful ornaments with different birds painted onto the fragile glass. I imagined my mother's hands gently placing these on her tree. I imagined her listening to her favorite music and signing alone; I could see her smile again and hear her soft laugh. I imagined my father sitting close by directing where the ornaments should be placed and then giving in and joining in with her. That was his way; it was their way I suppose. They had a love that I doubt exists anymore. I sat on the floor and went through each box, finding memories long forgotten and found myself smiling, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying but I had an overwhelming sense of things being ok. For the first time, in a long time, I knew that for this holiday I would celebrate what I DO have instead of being reminded of what has been lost. My mother and my father both loved the holidays. I've had one wish going through this time of life; that my parents were here for me to talk to and give me advice. My divorce has been the most isolating experience of my life thus far and I sometimes physically ACHE for my parents.

Now, as I write this I look at my pretty little tree with the lights full of beautiful wonder, and I see the ornaments with the birds that my mother adored. Today I will enjoy those as she did and smile knowing that my parents are still with me. Maybe not how I wish, but they are with me, they have been with me regardless of the holidays. Their love and advice live on, and even when I'm lonely and feel alone, I am reminded today that life has a way of working out. I will work this coming Christmas Day, and I'm agreeable to that plan, but I also will be happy to get off work, come back to my place and sit with a nice glass of wine, watch my pretty tree and listen to some beautiful Christmas music. Maybe I'll have a few friends over to visit. It doesn't matter because I've decided to enjoy the season. I realize that I am in control of what I experience this season. I choose happiness and wonder. The new year is almost here, and I don't make resolutions, but this year I will claim my happiness. My way. For me. This must be what healing feels like? I know I have a long way to go, and I have hard times ahead as well, but I also know that, like the little birds on my tree, I have a purpose too.