I thought I would take this time to update you on how we are handling this first Christmas Holiday without Brian. I get the impression that a lot of people are wondering and are concerned. If you do not care to hear all this, then please forgive my presumptuous attitude.
We started our first Christmas celebration on the 20th of December with Brian's Dad's extended family. As always, it was an enjoyable time together eating and chitchatting. There were over 20 of us present.
The kids still had school on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday evening, the onset of the holiday sadness fog began to creep in. I decided very last minute I needed to get out of the house. I texted my friends and within 5 minutes, I had three offers for dinner plans. Because we are THOSE kind of friends, I chose the best-sounding option and no one got upset. I love THOSE kinds of friends. We went to Kobe Steak House for some Teppanyaki-style cooking and so my boyz could ea.....CHEESE STICKS! Wth? Then we wen to another friend's house and the kids all played together. I have the very best friends anyone could ask for.
Wednesday, we had the 2 of the 3 B's (cousins) over in the morning while Cheryl worked. Wednesday afternoon, the B's and G's (my boys) went to MommO's house to decorate gingerbread houses and to see the Squeakel. I stayed home and wrapped presents. I cried most of the time. Historically, when Jan would take the grandkids and do something fun just prior to Christmas, it was BRIAN'S AND MY TIME. We would wrap together and he would say, "let me see what we got them this year." We would share a few drinks together. Often, we would go grab some Mexican. I missed that time and that man as I sat here alone wrapping presents.
Thursday was Christmas Eve. My parents arrived around 11 am. We went to my church's Christmas production about which I will remain silent because of the whole "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all" attitude I am trying to model for my kids. Then we went to Buffalo Wild Wings for a meal, then back here for a few drinks and conversation.
At about 6:15 on Christmas Eve, Gavin was busy doing something in the kitchen. The next thing we knew, he had a plate full of cookies, a full glass of milk, a carrot and a note in his hand heading toward the fireplace while dressed in his pajamas. He declared it was probably time for everyone to go pretty soon to ensure Santa didn't pass us by. After a good chuckle, PoppO showed him Norad. Gavin spent every 5 minutes for the next 2.5 hours tracking Santa's global progress. As soon as Santa hit Canada he was ready to hit the hay. It was very adorable.
The boyz and I exchanged our gifts on Christmas Eve night. I wanted to ensure I got proper credit for at least SOMETHING in their eyes they didn't get overwhelmed on Christmas morning with what I gave them plus what Santa gave them. The boyz adorned me this year with earrings, bracelets, a Victoria's Secret bag and two pairs of pajamas.
Christmas morning, the boys awoke around 7:30. I missed it as I woke around 7:40 to Gavin exclaiming, "MOM! MOM! Wake UP ! IT'S CHRISTMAS! SANTA CAME. HE ATE THE TOP OF MY GINGERBREAD HOUSE!" I was bummed I missed their initial reactions, but I have been having a bit of a hard time awaking in the mornings.
The boyz are most excited about this gift from Santa:
And to ensure this doesn't happen,
They also got these:
While, technically, Gavin did not ask for the weapon, only Grant did, Santa brought one for each of them. Santa knows that in this house, what is good for the gander is also good for the other gander. And sharing does not come naturally.
After the stockings were investigated and all the presents were opened, I was able to get in a 2.5 mile run on the treadmill while the kids played with their new toys and my parents went to Catholic Mass. That afternoon, we headed to Sean and Cheryl's (Bri's bro n sis in law) and the 3 B's for dinner and more presents. It was a great afternoon/evening.
Saturday, We awoke to a few inches of snow on the ground. After helping shovel, my parents left. After they left, I got in another 3 mile run while the kids played Wii. Saturday, I felt rather melancholy. I began to look around at the overwhelming mess that still exists this Monday and realized that this is it. There is no one here to share this with. The sad and lonely fog crept in again on Saturday. Mike and Jen (Bri's other bro) and McKenna were coming Saturday evening and Jan was having HER extended family to her house for another celebration. Saturday it snowed ABSOLUTELY ALL DAY LONG AND INTO SUNDAY MORNING. We had well over 6 inches when all was said and done. It was so beautiful, but it kept us from trying out the kids BBguns.
Sunday, we had an impromptu gathering of just O'Neills at Ed and Jans. It was a great day. The boyz got to shoot their BBguns. We went for a hike in the woods in the snow. The boyz got to play with Ziggy (the dog) as well as their cousins. It was a great, very fun, relaxed day.
Today is Monday. I am packing. I am cleaning. I am doing laundry. I am organizing. The boyz and I leave tomorrow for my folks. We are going to stop at Dave and Buster's in St. Louis to see a couple relatives. The boyz will have the week to shoot their guns, play their games, ride 4 wheelers and be boyz. We will celebrate New Years with my sister and some friends at Mom and Dad's. On New Years Day afternoon, we are opening presents with my family. We will return on the 3rd and the 4th the kids start school back up.
Anyway, I like to think we have this first Christmas milestone under our belt, but it is still continuing. Each day I find myself unexpectedly swelling up with tears at odd moments. I have been thinking of Brian a lot. Being with his family naturally makes me think of him. I miss seeing how he completed that dynamic - especially between his 2 brothers and him.
I am sure all the O'Neill's would wholeheartedly agree that while we are blessed and thankful this Christmas for what is in front of us, it isn't the same. It never will be.
Something is missing.
Sometimes it is just more obvious than other times.