The holidays are upon us. Holidays can be kind of heavy, even in the best of times, but I am feeling it a bit more this year. I know I lived through last year’s holiday season, my first without Jim, but I really can’t remember much of it. I had stopped writing in the CaringBridge, and I had not yet started this blog, so I really have little to look back upon. I don’t have a written record of that time. I think I must have been in a sort of daze.

Holidays are steeped in traditions. Cultural, religious, communities, and families. I know that the holidays came and went last year, but I cannot remember any news from that time. Can’t recall if the economy made a jump after all the Thanksgiving weekend shopping. Were there decorations in downtown Moscow, was there a UI holiday concert? Did I go? I’m sure my friends had the usual gathering at their house…I’m pretty sure I would have gone. I remember very little of it. There was the usual dance with the Kingpins, but other than a friend’s enduring stiff neck from the hula hoop contest, the actual night of that is a blur. I have pictures of the ski tree, so I know I set that up. I know I made caramels, many batches, and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. My kids would not have let me forget those traditions. I did not do a family calendar last year, I did not send out the usual LaFortune Christmas Carols. I just could not look through all the pictures of 2010 yet one more time. I got way more sympathy cards than holiday cards last year. They are still in a basket on my desk. Perhaps I should read them now, as I did not retain anything from that time. I’m sure I sang Christmas carols on Christmas Eve….and I probably cried when the candles were lit for Silent Night. That has happened every year since my sister died.

This year is different. I am no longer in a daze. I feel the usual holiday heaviness (which has nothing to do with the quantity of caramels I am capable of consuming), but I am also acutely aware of traditions, and how they have changed. I came home from an early Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s…and since I had the time, I fixed my vacuum cleaner. While others went shopping on black Friday, I was cooking my own turkey for a small family gathering, and the leftovers. Emerald went elsewhere for Thanksgiving this year, and I made Thai turkey soup instead of the usual. Jim was not there to pick the meat from the bones, a chore which I detest in the best of times. I am making caramels…and shipping some off in boxes. There is no handful disappearing every morning to be dispersed at the Jr. High. I have not been on my skis yet. I could not cook a turkey and spend all day waxing skis. There is little snow in north Idaho this year, so when the weekend came, I drove to Benton City to pick up my raft frame. My friend had her usual holiday party. I went and realized how very very very very lucky I am to live in this community, and how truly loved I am. I carried my current boyfriend in my purse. I am getting ready to order the calendar, I am composing LaFortune Christmas Carols in my head on the commute to work. I am not sure who is going to cook dinner so that I actually have the time to get these done. I will go to the Kingpins dance. I will win the hula hoop contest this year. I will set up the ski tree, make more caramels, and wake up early to bake cinnamon rolls. I will ski when there is snow, and I will cry when the candles are lit for Silent Night.

I really don’t remember last year. Perhaps forgetting is a survival mechanism. Like amnesia about the pain of childbirth to assure that at least some moms will go through that process more than once. The holidays are heavier this year, I am not in a daze.

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