Being in a stepfamily means a lot of Christmases, we had one for each household plus each side of the family: Mom’s, Dad’s, Stepmom’s, and Stepdad’s. That was a lot of “Christmas mornings” growing up, and every single one of them was with you, my sister. It gave us a ton of opportunities to share in the gift-giving process too, with each package labeled From C&C.
When I got married, I vividly recall the eye roll and dramatic “ugh” when you came to realize I would now be gift-giving with my spouse, not you. Believe me, it was strange. I’m almost positive I had to rewrite a tag or two because I filled it out incorrectly.
That first Christmas morning in Kansas with my husband’s family, it hit me a little differently. It was the first time without you in the bed or the room next to me.
I immediately FaceTimed you so we could exchange the bedhead, sleepy-eyed, low-octave morning voice “Merry Christmas” before rushing down the stairs to open stockings.
I got an eye roll then too, but only because it was early and you thought I was ridiculous. Deep down though, I know you were pumped because man, did you love Christmas!
Christmas was your thing.
You loved listening to Christmas music the moment November hit and decorating your tree as soon as someone could share that task with you. I mean, let’s be honest—you played the role of Baby Jesus in our family production of The Christmas Story at only a few weeks old. That must have been when the holiday spirit locked in, right?!
I’m going to miss that spirit the most. Like getting choked up in the ornament aisle miss it.
Then I really begin to think about it.
As I shop this year, I can’t call to double-check that we haven’t bought the same thing for our parents.
I can’t gift you a puzzle with my kids’ pictures on it so you can inevitably put it together in 10 minutes and get it framed.
I can’t harmonize to every single note of the Amy Grant “Home For Christmas” album with you, anticipating the next track before it even comes on (because that’s how many times we’ve heard it).
I can’t FaceTime you on Christmas morning from my husband’s family’s home, where we’ll be this year.
I can’t do any of those things this holiday season because it’s my first without you here.
But then I hear you say, “Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle!” And you’re right. While I could sit here and wallow in the sadness that all of this makes me feel, I won’t.
This first year without you, I’m going to do my best to choose joy. I’m going to channel your holiday spirit because I know I can.
I’ll get presents for our parents that I know you’d approve of, and on the tags, I’ll write From C&C.
I’ll get my kids a puzzle with a picture of their Aunt Coco on it so we can complete it and get it framed.
I’ll belt Amy Grant songs every time I get the chance because you wouldn’t want it any other way.
And on December 25th, I’ll look at my family with joy in my heart. I’ll look at my kid—your niece and nephew, your Doodle Bug and Boo Bear—on their very first Christmas morning together . . .
And I’ll think of how grateful I am that they have each other.