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.

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