Monday, December 13, 2010

12 days of Christmas

I didn't know until researching it a bit this week that the "12 days of Christmas" is actually meant to start on Christmas day and carry through to January 5, not lead up to the holiday.  I'd always assumed that it was to count down and celebrate the days until Christmas.  When I would hear the familiar song, I envisioned the true love was surprising someone with a gift each day until the 25th.

Our first Christmas without Austin was extremely difficult.  Losing him so close to the holidays made it so very hard to feel any sense of celebration.  Christmas evokes memories and feelings of being close with those you love yet we were facing the days without him.  I know that decorating our house was his last gift to us because honestly, had he not done it, I don't think we would have had a tree that year.  Looking at the angel that topped our tree and remembering his last day with us is what pulled me through that season. 

Noah helped too, as it is impossible to tell an eight year old to not be excited about Christmas.  He helped to begin mending our hearts that year with the joy he felt for the season, despite missing his big brother.  We tried to carry on with family traditions, remembering Austin along the way.  On days I wanted nothing to do with the holidays, it was Noah's smiling face that carried me along.  With all that we'd been through, I knew he deserved a special Christmas.

Tim was the hardest to fill with the holiday spirit but my stubborn soul wouldn't let him give up.  I think that is why we make such a good couple.  As cheesy as the line is, we do "complete each other" and where one lacks a strength the other steps in to help.  He's pushed me at the times I needed it most, and I for him; just like the time we made each other climb the highest point on our Smoky Mountain trip.  He pushed me through the first half and helped me forget my asthma and I pulled him the last to overcome his fear of heights.  We've always been there for each other to hold the other up, or stand beside, locking hands in unity.

That year, I came up with the idea of surprising him with a 12 days of Christmas countdown, hoping it would give him something to look forward to each day.  To be honest, I needed it as much as him as it gave me a distraction instead of marking the days on the calendar since we'd lost Austin.  So, I printed off the lyrics to the song and went shopping with my creative juices flowing.

Shopping for twelve items was harder than I expected but it became my holiday mission.  I was determined to find something special for each day to surprise Tim with.  The eve of the first night, I created a little card with the first chorus and attached it to a ripe pear.  Hiding in the utility room, I knew Tim would find it on his daily duty of taking out the trash.  He chuckled, gave me a peck on the cheek and took it to work for a snack.

I don't remember what I did all the days but the second day, I hid chocolate turtles and Dove bars with the next phrase of the song.  By the third, a gift card to KFC, he was beginning to look forward to his daily treat.  The 4th day was pretty cute, if I do say so myself.  I snuck into his phone and downloaded a ring tone of birds singing and attached it to my name.  That morning, when I called him, his jacket pocket began to tweet and I sang him the next line of the song upon his answer.

Day 5 was made complete with a surprise lunch and a bag of Funyuns.  (So, there were more than five in a bag but those little golden rings of goodness are too yummy to just give a few.)  With either the geese or the swans I hid rubber duckies throughout his van so he he'd find them along his day of making deliveries.  Christmas Eve, he received a gift of bubble pipes to take a break and have fun in his day, even though he had to work.  And, on Christmas morning, a little drummer boy figurine was placed beside his recliner with a steamy cup of coffee.

Each day brought a smile to both our faces, and even Noah as he was excited to see his dad's daily surprise.  It helped us come together as a family during a time we could have easily fell apart.  The song now holds special meaning and memories of our first Christmas with just the three of us.  Although Austin wasn't there that year physically, I have no doubt he was the special angel helping me plan and get through those twelve days, and every day since.


Tracy said...

Oh Heather! You never cease to touch my heart. Thank you!

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