The First Christmas without Dad…

In our society we mark “firsts” in a special way.  A baby’s first steps, his first words, the first date, the first time we drive a car, etc. These are milestones in our lives, and they hold a special place in our memories.  They are celebratory!

The first year after a loved one passes is also full of firsts.

Last year my dad passed away right before Christmas.  In reality, last Christmas was our first without dad, but I think we were still in such shock over his passing; we simply got through the holiday feeling numb. It didn’t hit us until all the decorations had been put away that we had just had a huge loss.  The grieving process then began.

This year we have hit all the “first” milestones, and have grieved a little at each celebration, missing his presence. The first Father’s Day, his birthday, and now here we are preparing ourselves for Christmas.  The sting of not having dad around is hitting my mom and me much harder this year.  The kids had a hard time when we came across papa’s Christmas stocking.  Should we hang it beside grandma’s, like we have every year? –Or would that be “weird”?

Dad loved Christmas.  Each time I hear a Christmas carol sung by Andy Williams, Dean Martin, or Frank Sinatra– I think of my dad.  I think about the family sitting beside our record player, one of his most prized possessions, listening to Christmas records for hours!  At Christmastime I think about the fake flocking that my dad, like so many of us silly Californians, used to spray on the windows to emulate a “white Christmas”(…and unfortunately the stuff would never come off completely, so it looked as though we had a little fake snow around the window panes even during July!)  I remember the Barbie Dream house and so many other toys that he spent hours putting together in the garage on Christmas Eve, so they’d be displayed under the tree as I awoke Christmas morning.  As a teenager, I remember attending midnight Mass with dad; “O Come All Ye Faithful” was sung as the clock struck 12 midnight.  Jesus was born!!

We are faithful believers in Jesus, so this has nothing to do with wondering “where” dad is.  We know he’s home!  But, on a very personal note, he is still much missed, here.

This blog isn’t written to bum-out anyone.  Rather, I hope to encourage those of us who have had a recent loss.  It is through the Christmas story that our salvation plan starts.  With that sweet little baby who is humbly lying in the straw of that stable, God has given us the gift of life eternal, with Him.  As an added “gift”, we also look forward to spending eternity with our loved ones.  No more tears.  No more pain.

This truth really is celebratory!!

This year we decided to hang papa’s stocking on the mantle, like we always have.  It has become more of a statement of “who’s in our family”.  And even though he’s now living in Heaven, my kids know that papa is still part of our family. We joyfully look forward to being with each other again, one day!

Are you going through a personal grieving process this Christmas?  How have you found strength and comfort during this Christmas season?

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Comment on a post
12 comments
TinaMarieErstad
TinaMarieErstad

I am totally lost last post here was2010., I lost my dad 5 weeks ago. It's Christsmas Eve and I am sadder than I can handle at times

Lisa S.
Lisa S.

Thank you to everyone who has shared a loss with us on this thread. It's Christmas Eve, and while I am finishing up the pies for tonight's dinner, I wanted to send a little love to you all! Brenna, your story especially touched me! Thank you for the sacrifice that you and your family are making this Christmas...for ALL OF US. Thank you to your dear husband for the choice he made to protect us ALL, from so far away. You are the real heroes!! May the joy that we do experience at CHRISTmas, from the gift of the Savior, be alive in your hearts and bring you all peace this night! Much love, Lisa

Jamie Morey
Jamie Morey

My father passed away this past August (8/30/10). He died unexpectedly which was hard on us. My father gave his life to the lord 15 years ago so I know he is "home" also. This is the first Christmas with out him. Last Christmas (2009) he was living with me. His birthday is in January and I know that will be hard also. I know everything happens for a reason and I know God called him home because it was his time. I just really miss him especially now at the holidays. Merry Christmas to all of you and I pray for continued peace and comfort for you and myself in the coming weeks, months and years. God Bless!

bella
bella

My Father died on April 28, 2010. I took him to his doctor appointment on the morning of April 26~everything was good and he had the go ahead to leave for Italy with my Ma. Later that night he had a massive heartattack, was in a coma for 2 days, than we had to take him off of life support. Before they took him off of life support I whispered in his ear "remember to raise up when you hear the trumpet." He wasn't a praying man~but he left his mark~over 1,000 people came to the wake to give their condolences. He was a good man.

Brenna
Brenna

Hey, I haven't temporarily lost any family members yet, but my husband is deployed. I can't compare the similarities or differences, but I'd imagine it equals out pretty evenly - sure, he's coming home (God willing) at the end of his deployment, but he's been ripped out of our lives for an entire year - or longer, should the military change their mind. Everything is equally hollow for the year, with the added challenge of trying not to worry about his physical safety. (I imagine it is a little less stressful knowing that for certain.) And the knowledge that things will never, could never be the same as they were before he had to leave . . . I've been going through a lot of mourning. It's especially hard because this is the very first time any family member has ever been absent for any Christmas I've experienced. The only way I've been able to get through the season has been throwing myself into traditions that are generations old - or at least they feel that way. Both my and his families live locally, and everyone's traditional Christmas celebrations fit perfectly together. I consider it nothing but supernatural providence, as we can go through the entire Christmas season without making hard choices on whose to miss. If not for those traditions to lose myself in, I am uncertain how I'd be able to cope.

Hanna
Hanna

Just wanted to share that we lost our dad almost 11 yrs ago at age 45 and all the holidays are still empty without him. And the grieving goes in waves from year to year. Yes, we are used to the idea that he's not around but in our minds and hearts he always will be. By Gods grace dad was able to leave his handprint on each of our hearts. And every Christmas time ( it's his bday month) we miss him more than other seasons... It doesnt go away, but I don't know that I'd want it to...

osborn4
osborn4

The death of a Christ follower always kicks off mixed emotions. Check out my blog article about it. Another Grief Observed

Lisa S.
Lisa S.

A sincere thank you to those of you who shared how you are dealing with loss this year, and in previous years. We were blessed to have had Hospice for my dad, and they have continued to be a great resource for our family. Here's a site that lists some ideas from the Hospice Foundation of America, on coping with grief during the holiday season. You all remain in my prayers... Lisa http://griefnet.org/library/hfa-tips.html

Meredith
Meredith

I lost my daddy last March and this year is MUCH more difficult ... I guess it has all really settled in and a sad reality. For us remembrances come with "Silver Bells" and anything sung by Burl Ives. He was such a prankster and told fabulous jokes ... hard to replace the light humor that was always around. My daddy was the greatest influence in my walk with Christ and we know that we will be reunited later. I just wish it was soon! Praying for you and your family this Christmas.

Lorrie
Lorrie

I lost my 22 yr old son on Christmas Eve 07

Kathy
Kathy

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I don't think this would "bum" anyone out but, as you so desired, encourage them to look forward with hope as they look back with fondness. Merry (Mighty) Christmas, Kathy Oklahoma

Denise M
Denise M

Lisa, my dad died in Oct. 2007, and our first Christmas without him when much the same way yours did. It was the second Christmas without Dad with us, after the year of all the other "firsts" without him where it really hit us. This year we are adding my oldest daughter's fiance to the household for Christmas. The consensus is that Grandpa would have loved her fiance. While our family celebrations will have an addition this year, we are reminded my daughters plans are to move away with her fiance after the wedding. Where they are going, we cannot go (at least for now). That is their path to follow. But, with the comings and goings in life, Jesus is the constant. His love for us is constant. His gift to us is the same.