The Unopened Christmas Present

Today is the second anniversary of my mother’s death. The Christmas season will always be tinged with sadness for me – everybody else is gearing up for the holidays while I look back to what I lost.

The worst part about this grief it that it holds the loss of hope – that’s what I lost. Hope. My relationship with my mother was complex, and mostly difficult. I lost the hope that I would get a chance to create a relationship that was less painful – that we could find a way to be happier, to create more good memories to balance out the bad ones. I lost the opportunity to make it right, somehow.

I not sure that would have been possible – but I irrevocably lost the chance to even try.

Our relationship will forever remain, unfinished. Perhaps all relationships do. But all those conversations we never had, the memories we never made, the laughs we never got to share – they haunt me.

Perhaps that’s why I have a Christmas present from my mother that I’ve never opened.  Before she died she went Christmas shopping – it’s the last present I’ll ever get from her. It’s been said that I can’t get closure until I open it, that I’m not letting go. The people that say these things might be right.

That way I see it though, as long as I still have that present to open our relationship isn’t completely over. There’s still something left to be exchanged between us.

That present represents a small piece of possibility. It represents a future.

Maybe what’s inside will provide a small measure of comfort, and I’m missing out on that. Maybe it’s terrible (my mother was actually a notoriously bad gift-giver). I won’t say I’m not curious, it’s just that right now what the present represents is more important to me than what’s inside.

I’m not ready for it to be over between us. Perhaps one day I will be. Perhaps that will be the day I find peace.

What do you think? Weigh in – to open, or not to open?

On a good day, this is how I view my grief. But some days – like today – it’s ok to not be ok. I’m embracing that.

And if you’d like to do something for me – remember this Christmas that not everyone has big, joyful families to spend the holidays with. Take a look around you – and if you see someone who might need a little more joy in their Christmas – do something for them. It doesn’t have to be big, sometimes the littlest things make the biggest difference.  If you can make the world around you a better place, even in the smallest of ways – I can see no better embodiment of the holiday spirit than that.  I’ve been very lucky that I have amazing people in my life that make sure fun, and laughter, and joy, and love are a part of my holidays. I’ve always been very grateful for that.

29 thoughts on “The Unopened Christmas Present

  1. Pingback: The First Snow and the Morning That Everything Went Wrong | Stories from the far side of normal

  2. open it. just do it. maybe your birthday, maybe the solstice itself.

    my parents segued to whatever realm invisible to (most of) us 11 years ago! still, almost on a bi-weekly basis i will do or see or consider something and say to myself “if only my dad (or mom) could see this!” and then i remember. fading, yes, but never completely.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! A lot of votes have come in on the open it side – a friend of mine who is also a mother said “open it – she would want you too. If my kids didn’t open their last present from me I’d kick their ass!”

      She made some good points.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, and I hope writing about it was cathartic for you. Thank you for sharing, and my thoughts are with you. I’d say wait until your ready to open the gift, that is if you decide you want to. The decision is all up to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leave it unopened, at least until the time comes when you feel it is right to open it. Right now it represents hope to you, and hope should be preserved. Maybe some day it will represent something else. (I usually wouldn’t be comfortable weighing in on such a personal issue, but it seems that really I’m just reiterating what you have already decided so I’m okay with this).

    My thoughts are with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hey Soph… such a nice read… brought tears, I know you’ll always have your mom with you in many ways, but…a treasure to have her gift under the tree. I am sure she is smiling down on you. Take care and hope to see you soon, you have such a kind heart!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Keep it unopened, at least until you are truly ready to open it one year. I lost my dad a little over two years ago and for some reason, my birthday is always a rough day for me because he would always call all excited to wish me a happy birthday. Since then, I really haven’t been big on birthdays or willing to celebrate it with a large group of people. So far the feeling never goes away, but over time, it does get a little easier as each year passes. Cheers to you my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I say you keep it unopened. That hope that you lost when you lost her is still represented in that box. I always feel bad for people that lose their parents and always feel a little bad that I’ve had such good parents to model my life after. I’m glad that you shared this and I do hope you have a nice Christmas regardless of who your family is or how big or small they are.

    I hope this doesn’t minimize how you are feeling, and it will sound cheesy because I express myself through movies, but I just watched Furious 7 this weekend and over and over again, Vin Diesel reiterated that the people he ran around with, his crew, weren’t his friends but his family. It isn’t always who you are born into, but the people you experience the deepest feelings of belonging with. I’m glad you have great friends that you feel like family with.
    And I’m glad that my son who was born to another is in our family now and will always be our son, regardless of who he was born to.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Darling Grand Daughter you are not alone. Your words are beautiful, precious. We mostly grieve in silence.

    There is not a day goes by that I don’t wish there was something we could have done different, early in Darling Sherry’s life to see her have the joyous glorious life that was meant to be for her.

    We don’t get do overs in life but I regret not cuddling, tickling, playing more. We have wonderful memories from childhood, many day trips, Beach trips, BBQ’s, We loved weekend drives. I regret I was away so much, so long on deployments and missed so much.

    I too have many little presents from Sherry that I treasure, just cards, crafts, clippings, some of which I returned to her grave site in the glass memorial, many of which are displayed on the walls and in cabinets at home.

    May you be blessed and have a Merry, Joyous Christmas with those that are close and know you may be far away bat are in our heart.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you – that means a lot to me. Grief, much like love, is difficult to capture in words.

      That seems to be the consensus – which makes me feel a little less weird in my decision to not open the present. It’s nice to know that I’m not being complete irrational. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree, you’ll know in your heart when it’s right. The gift may not be what’s inside- but what it makes you think of. When you find peace, and forgive yourself and forgive your mom for the unfinished memories. The unopened box is a gift to your soul. Thinking of you, and wishing you a happy day that you remember the good memories. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

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