For us, this also marks the beginning of the countdown to Patrick's anniversary exactly one month later.
For us, it brings us back to when we celebrated his last Christmas with him, not knowing what was going to happen a few weeks later.
For us, it reminds us of the calm before that storm ...when everything was near perfect.
For others who have lost children, it too is always a time during which that miss, this ever-present miss, seems to be more prominent than on other days. You may have learnt to sort of live with it as part of your daily routine but special occasions will always be different. Your child's absence is felt even stronger then.
The last two Christmases without Patrick have of course not been the same. They've been hard. And the lead up to them were tricky. It can be very difficult to try and get yourself organised, write those cards and buy those presents when your heart is in a different place.
Sometimes, you get thrown life lines - albeit strange life lines at sometimes truly odd timings.
I seem to sporadically get Christmassy well ahead of even my usually acceptable time. This is something I have observed last year already and again now. However, I am beginning to accept this as being OK and something to embrace: Just going with the flow, organise Christmassy things and feel Christmassy whenever the mood allows me.
Why? Because I know that come Christmas and New Years, I will find it much harder to get through the days. At least this way, I might have things lined up to stop me from retreating into my shell when that miss hits. As comfortable a place that might seem from a distance, once you are there, it is not a nice experience at all....And difficult to pull yourself out of it again.
So I'm shamelessly enjoying the pre-Christmas time. I organise outings, bake Christmas cookies, write Santa letters with Eoghan and make memories with him and the husband.
Having him around, at the very least, gives us both back that magic that tends to get lost as one grows into adulthood. The talk of Santa, cuddling up on the couch to watch Christmas movies, the smell of Christmas baking and watching the hustle and bustle of people forgetting about their worries for a short while and getting caught up in the festive mood. All this is so nice.
Besides, it's all over so fast anyway and the time during which children believe in and enjoy the magic of Christmas is limited.
Wishing all families who are living with this huge miss in their lives, a peaceful run up to Christmas.
Thinking of all of you.