No choosing, meme-ing, or avoiding our way out of Holiday grief.

Oh, hi. I know it’s been awhile. I hit a bit of a life wall this summer and just took a break: exhausted by my own experience, exhausted by our story, exhausted by life as it has all just been really…Hard.

I needed lots of depression naps.

And also…Things weren’t as difficult as they’ve been for the last few years this last summer so I tried to work hard to allow space for that to set in. Don’t get me wrong – the realist in me has to add the disclaimer that this summer was EXTREMELY sad: every moment still met with “…Mom would be so proud right now. I wish she could see this.” or “…Oh shit, Aaron would have loved this. He could have been here with us, while Sloan is with her nurse bestie at home.” So that…Sucked.

And yet, that suckiness sits with us every moment of every day: and somehow you learn to just live with it. It becomes a low-grade suckiness that isn’t as ever-present and sharp as the suckiness that first exists in those jarring few months (or year, or however long it might take for someone) within the opening chapter of your life’s biggest losses.

The sharpness and debilitating pain still happens. But it’s not all-consuming like it once was.

So this summer I also had room for some laughter. Caring about Erika Jayne and Tom Girardi’s shit. Lots of diet coke. Paddleboarding. Travel. Time with friends. Lots of scrunchie events. And most importantly: time with Sloan that I will actually remember. …And time I will actually remember as good.

Now it’s holiday szn.

One of the only things that brings me joy right now around the holidays are Christmas cards for me and Sloan. It’s a small thing, but something I have control over and enjoy designing and mailing. It’s a simple, mindful activity. This year’s Christmas card simply said “Multitudes” across the front: and if that doesn’t summarize 2021 for us, I’m not sure what does.

So here we all are. Moving into 2022. It’s that time of year where room for multitudes and complexity of life lessens.

Everywhere we look we’re met with faces of smiling families in matching pajamas, long Instagram captions of gratitude and thankfulness, people professing that you can simply CHOOSE joy or CHANGE your attitude on life: and that solves it all.

But, for many of us who have had life-altering experiences in the darkest of dark: we know it’s just not that simple.

So I guess the realist in me is here to remind us all (maybe just remind me? lol who knows), that those faces of smiling families in pajamas are hired actors who are paid to match each other for two hours: going home to their own real families with real experiences and real dynamics.

Those long Instagram captions of gratitude and thankfulness are sometimes genuine. Yet they can also be an overcompensation for real-life struggles that we’ll never see via the online highlight reel. Shit happens. And a coping mechanism for that shit is avoidance through forced gratitude.

The people professing you can make a CHOICE on joy and your attitude are not clinical medical professionals. Because the clinical medical professionals are so swamped this time of year with people needing therapy to work through the pressure of the holidays, they don’t have time to write about choosing joy and attitudes. And, that’s simply not what they’re taught in med school: because the human mind isn’t that simple. We just want it to be.

I’m here to remind you (and mostly myself? lol) – it’s okay if it’s not perfect or far from it.

It’s okay if over the holidays you’re HAPPY for a moment, even though your mom and husband are dead. It’s okay if over the holidays you’re PISSED, because your mom and husband are dead and nobody understands. It’s okay if over the holidays you’re numb. It’s okay if the holidays don’t exist for you this year: sometimes that’s the best way to make it to the next.

And guess what? I might be alone in this, but I think the paid pajama-model-actor people might even be doing the same in their real lives. Sans-matching-pajamas.

So this year, in our house, we’ve stocked up on every possible local Christmas food treat we can find to eat our feelings.

Kassie will be cooking all day to cope.

We’ll be doing a small treat for our beloved community in the morning.

And then we’ll just play with Sloan, avoid social media, and make it through until 2022 when another year starts again.

Another year of multitudes.