Saturday, December 19, 2020


 There have been many firsts since Rick died in July.  The holiday season has brought its own list of firsts.  I spent my first Thanksgiving alone.  For years I taught my students that you are stronger than you think, Thanksgiving alone on the farm proved it for me.  Thank goodness there were calls from those who loved me, giving me strength that day.

This week there have been other firsts.  The first Christmas tree I have ever done alone.  The first Christmas cards I have ever not signed, Rick and Jilda.    My friends in the "widow's club" warned me about the holidays.  Sadly, they all knew but they made it through and are still making it through year after year.  As one friend told me this week,  it is our job to pay it forward.  

There are many this year who are enduring holiday firsts.  With the deaths of over 300,000 Americans from Covid the widows club has grown by leaps and bounds. 

I have always tried to reach out to those in need during the holidays.  I cooked meals for families, bought gifts and  we gave money to those in need.  My most memorable Christmas, a poverty stricken family moved in down the road from us several years ago.  A mother with several children and it was heartbreaking to watch them struggle.  We live in a very poor area of our county, but this family was probably the most destitute I have ever seen.  My brother's family and Rick and I tried to help them in any way we could.

Their first Thanksgiving, I bought a turkey and all the fixin's and took it to them.  The mother sobbed and the youngest son, told me she didn't know how to cook a turkey.  No problem, on Thanksgiving morning I got up, cooked their turkey ( at 2:00 am) and then mine.  They had their first home cooked Thanksgiving meal.  I knew I would do the same at Christmas.

That Christmas, I bought each of them a gift of warm clothing and wrapped every present.  On Christmas day when Rick and I took their Christmas dinner and gifts to them, they all sobbed.  It was their first Christmas to receive wrapped presents.  Life was already teaching me about holiday firsts.

My first holidays without parents were full of firsts.  None of momma's cooking, none of daddy's gag gifts.  But I had Rick and as we lost family members, we held on to each other through all the firsts.

So now, here I am and the firsts just keep on coming.  I never considered I would have holidays without Rick.  Honestly, I thought we would both live to be that old elderly couple shuffling through the mall every holiday, slowing all those young shoppers down.  Rick would tell each cashier who asked how we were doing, " I'm living the dream, what are you gonna be when you grow up?"

Each day brings a new first for me, some I handle with grace, some with full blown anger, some with sobbing lying face down on the sofa.  There are no rules in grief, don't let anyone try to tell you there are.

Another first this holiday season, placing holly wrapped in plaid ribbons on Rick's grave.  That one numbed me to the very core of my existence, never have I felt so empty or so alone. 

If you are experiencing firsts this holiday season, don't worry about traditions, rules or whatever.  Take care of you, believe it or not, your firsts and your story will help someone else.  Pay it forward.  By the way, here's another first for me that phrase, M---y C-------s!  just can't utter it, can't write it or even type it, maybe next year.

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