Broken for you

Is anyone else spinning like a top right now, or is it just me? December always seems to creep up on me, and suddenly I am so overwhelmed with the gift buying, the parties, the teacher’s gifts that I become quite, apathetic about all of it. I thought I had made it easier on myself this year by suggesting a “Goodwill” Christmas, where we buy each other silly sweaters from Goodwill. But already my dad has called and asked what the kids want. And the Goodwill sweaters don’t seem as funny as I thought they would be.

Arron’s birthday is on the 22nd, and once again I am confronted with the annual question — how to celebrate? How to mark the day in a simple, elegant, meaningful way? I still haven’t found it even after 7 years. I used to get a Carvel Ice Cream cake, but they don’t even have Carvel in WA. It just used to get thrown away anyways. The birdbath is in dire need of repair. Tiles are falling off and need to be re-glued. On top of everything else. It will be a big job, but its starting to make me sad, so I should probably address it. Maybe in an odd way, it will make me feel better, allow me to reconnect to Arron again.

I recently read a great book called Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos about a woman who learns to mosaic tile using the fragments of porcelain that has been stolen from Nazi Jews. There is so much more to this book than that, and I really couldn’t put it down, but the idea that you could make something new and beautiful from something broken really struck me. Oddly, I never explored that idea in my own article about mosaics. It made so much sense. I am looking forward to attending Stephanie’s reading this week for her new book Sing them Home. Can’t wait!

Despite all my moaning, I am never too busy for a book reading. Christmas shopping will have to wait…

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  1. anniegirl1138 December 9, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Will’s birthday is in November. Last year we adopted my husband and step-daughters tradition of buying a cake but the effect was it made my daughter sad. This year I decided to pre-empt and told Rob we wouldn’t be doing that. My girl is too little to have anniversaries thrown at her right now. It doesn’t serve a purpose though someday it might and then we will rethink.

    Will will be dead three years (physically although I personally believe the real him was gone the summer of 2003) and I have no plans which is a little odd and uncomfortable because I am very aware of the marking of anniversaries due to my husband’s late wife’s family. They do something special for everything. Makes me feel a bit cold-hearted but you can’t force stuff like this.

    Merry Christmas and take care.

  2. Abigail December 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Wow. I applaud your decision to not throw anniversaries at your daughter. Funny how we feel so obligated to these darned anniversaries. I have always felt as though I thrust them at my kids, and they could have cared less. They had their memories (or not in my son’s case) and with the everyday stuff that comes up, its enough.

    I wonder if your husband’s late wife’s family is competing with you just a little? M-grief-is-worse-than-yours sort of thing. I wouldn’t take it too much to heart. Grief is as unique as finger prints. We all do it differently.

    Stay warm this holiday. I will be in Toronto for the break and will be feeling your pain. I don’t even have the proper gear anymore!

  3. anniegirl1138 December 10, 2008 at 12:41 am


    My husband’s in-laws though have been nothing but wonderful and accepting. They have treated me better than my late husband’s family. But they are anniversary people, and Rob and I decided to shield Katherine from it until she is older. His daughters too, even though they are in their twenties, need to be able to remember and grieve out of sight of their little sister, who asks the kind of questions only a six year old can and get away with.

    Enjoy Toronto. I haven’t gotten east yet and we are staying put until spring and then it’s the Fairmont Hot Springs for us.

  4. Crash Course Widow December 12, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    “How to mark the day in a simple, elegant, meaningful way? I still haven’t found it even after 7 years.”

    I remember reading something quite similar in your book (maybe something about the memorials? or about marking Arron’s first birthday after 9/11? I’m drawing a blank at the moment…) and saying to myself, YES! THIS WOMAN IS EXACTLY RIGHT! I run into the same snags every year…what do I do? what do I WANT to do this year? do I want to do anything for it this year?…and on and on.

    Charley’s birthday is the day before Arron’s, on the 21st. And with it sandwiched between Christmas and our wedding anniversary two weeks earlier, on Dec. 7, his birthday ends up getting the least grief weight from me. Which isn’t a bad thing…and he’d certainly understand; he never really cared about his bday in the first place, especially since it got overshadowed by Christmas his entire life.

    I did a special dinner with friends his first birthday (which, fortunately or unfortunately, got extended to some of his immediate family too; I get along great with them, but like you experienced with your MIL, it was a bit stifling at times and I just wanted some sympathy for just ME for a change). The 2nd one I mostly ignored, and went shopping with a friend who also knew it was his birthday. Last year, his 3rd one since dying, I actually acknowledged more; Anna had recently turned 3 and finally got what birthdays meant–CAKE!!–so I asked his mom to make his favorite bday cake for him, with Anna’s help, and then we sang Happy Birthday to him and Anna blew out the candle.

    Yeah, I’m definitely guilty of cramming the “big dates” down Anna’s throat too…but she was so young–only 10 mos. old–when her dad died that without it, she’d have nothing of her father at all. We’ll see how her reactions change over time, but for now, she doesn’t think it’s weird (yet) that Mommy marks all these Daddy Dates.

    Thanks for sharing this post, especially at 7 years out. (And sorry for the epic length…it’s just how I am. I don’t know how people do short and sweet. ;o))

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