Christmas Without

The calendar hanging on my wall will not stop its relentless march toward December 25th. Steadily, the days move toward the holiday like an ant toward a grain of sugar.

Even before tragedy struck my immediate family twice this year, I have occasionally looked at Christmas as a time of year when the emphasis on what I do not have dominates the holiday. Some years I did not have enough money to indulge in gift-giving the way I wanted. Other years I was without time to enjoy the season.

This year I am without two members of my family. Christmas Day will be heavy with their permanent absence.

As a writer, I indulge in the emotional side of situations. Because I cannot touch a reader’s heart with a visual display of sorrow, joy or any other emotion, I have to depict them on paper in such a way the reader will emphatically connect to the story and character.

Christmas Without is relatable in the same emphatic way. Each of us has had one or more holidays without something important to us, whether it’s family, money, or even the spirit of the season. We can all relate to a Christmas we simply wish to get past.

Strangely, I’m beginning to feel the tingling of a little Christmas spirit. This year, in the midst of the biggest “without” of my life, I’m starting to experience the wonder of the season. The decorations lining Main Street are brighter and the carols sound more beautiful. The smell of evergreen is stronger and the taste of eggnog is more delicious.

I feel the losses of my loved ones deeply and without pause. Although my thoughts are full of longing for the impossible return of what was once my reality, I feel a sense of calm serenity.

I will try to carry this calm serenity into my writing. For a time recently, I included a major character’s untimely death in all of my stories. During those periods of dark prose, it seemed the only way to write. It was the only thing that made sense since I was (and still am) living the reality of my fiction.

At the start of December, I began to feel different. Whether it’s the seasonal holiday goodwill or the calm remembrances of better times, whatever has happened is good for me and good for my writing. I have started to fill my characters with a little more joy and hope, and a little less sorrow and despair. Where death was once running like an unseen cloud throughout my stories, the hope of life is slowly taking its place.

The holiday season is bustling with good intentions and warm feelings. I am saving my “withouts” for New Year’s Eve when I will reflect on loved ones I miss with all of my heart. I will reflect and then I will begin to look forward.

I wish you all a Christmas Without “withouts.” I wish you a season of peace and comfort. If you cannot muster cheer for the holidays, embrace its tranquility instead.

I will.

J J Dare, author of Joe Daniel’s “False Positive” and “False World,” and numerous short stories


Filed under life, musings, writing

7 responses to “Christmas Without

  1. My heart goes out to you J.J. I understand loss. Each year, around Mother’s and Father’s Day, my inbox fills with spam reminding me not to forget Mom or Dad. The first couple, after they moved on to a better plane, were difficult. I felt as if surely I were the only person on the planet without parents. But those two holidays today are comforting. I no longer see the commercialism behind them, and I remember my mom and dad in my own way.

    I’m pleased you’re able to get a sense of holiday spirit this year, and that you’re able to write about your losses. It took me a couple years before I found the proper distance to be able to write about mine.

    You’re doing fine, J.J. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Peace to you, and happiness, good health and prosperity in the year ahead.


  2. You were eloquent in your post. It’s not an easy subject to deal with and we have all been there.

  3. JJ, I too am trying to look at the big picture, and can see how all this emotion is going to have an impact on my writing. Traditionally, those firsts, such as the first Christmas without, are the hardest times, but it seems to me as if you have a good grasp on your grief and are letting it take you where you need to go. Doesn’t make it easy, though, does it?

    I’ll be thinking of you, and will try to share your peace the way we’ve shared our grief.

  4. A meditative, genuine post on a tough subject. I wish you all the best on your journeys through the unexploded bomb laden path of the holiday season accompanied by your “withouts.” Memory is the candle you light in their honor. Peace.

  5. Martha S. McGee

    I, too have lost several Loved ones this year. First, we lost our Son on January 31st, then my Husband on March 29th and then my sister’s Husband on July 2nd. One of my Son’s many friends set up a group site “In Loving Memory of Kevin McGee” on Facebook. The membors that have joined and the many posts that his friends have written has helped me get through this. All the special days that we have had this year have been hard. The hardest so far was August 12, 2010, our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Other people have had the same thing happen and they made it, so can we. Stay strong and we’ll get there.

  6. christinehusom

    What a blessing you are touched by the magic of the season, despite your loss. My mother died on December 10, five years ago, and although we were so happy she was free of Alzheimer’s, it was a difficult two weeks sitting with her as her life was coming to an end. I drastically condensed my normal Christmas preparations. I think I sat down on Christmas morning to write my annual letter to family and friends. Christmas was sad for us, joyous for her.

  7. Pingback: A Christmas Without . . . Again by Jan D Linton (J J Dare) | Second Wind Publishing Blog

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