Merry Geekmas
Merry Belated Everything!

Peace in Brain, Goodwill Toward Self

I can't tell you how many first sentences I have written and deleted in the past couple days. "So here's the thing," I'd start, then be unable to put the thing into words.

Other times I'd try skipping the pointless preamble and just say it, but then would be irritated by the unpoetic obviousness: the well-duh-ness of it.

Then I'd think that I didn't really want to publish anything that might bum people out right before Christmas ANYWAY, so maybe I'll just go do something else until a different, funnier topic occurred to me. And yes, the Star Wars snowflakes were Exhibit A of "doing something else", along with baking. So much baking. I don't even particularly love baking, but I did it anyway. Batch after batch of cookies, until I finally up and ran out of sugar yesterday. 

So it's either finally sit down and post something or vaccuum. 

We're hosting Christmas this year, for the first time ever. This is not the thing, of course, because I'm happy to do it. We bought this particular house with holiday hosting in mind -- albeit that was waaaay back before we went and filled every bedroom with wall-to-wall children and reached a toy-and-baby-gear occupancy level that also is approaching deadly stadium crush levels. I knew my mom wouldn't be able to host Christmas much longer so I figured we could step up and take over at some point. 

That point is now. You know, because my dad's dead.

Aaaand: Pall. Cast

And also, I know, right? Holidays are hard after you lose someone! Especially the first holiday! Because that person won't be there and they were an important part of the emotional fabric of that holiday and so the reality of your loss gets to punch you in the chest a little bit more than usual. My goodness, Amy, that's quite an astute observation there. Has science been notified of your shocking findings?

My children are beside themselves with excitement. Presents! Santa! Cookies! Nana and aunts and uncles and COUSINS TO PLAY WITH!  Despite family-wide agreements to not go overboard with the presents, the floor-to-almost-ceiling stack of Amazon boxes in my bedroom suggest that we all pretty much failed spectacularly at not overcompensating and buying our feelings or anything. I'm actually massively relieved that the only traveling expected of us is a couple trips to the train station, and am super excited about Christmas morning and Christmas dinner and omg, the toy parking garage we bought for Ezra is going to MELT HIS FACE OFF. 

And it's Ike's first Christmas! Probably the last "first Christmas" we'll have with a baby. I bought them all ridiculous coordinating Christmas pajamas and I'm going to let them all eat cookies all damn day and watch A Christmas Story 14 times in a row while building Lego sets and it will all be so wonderful, I just know it. 

And yet, oh. I just wish he was here too. 





I was sort of wondering when you would post this and as usual it is perfect. Such warm and happy holidays to you and your family, Amy.


My dad passed away 11 years ago and I wish I could tell you it gets easier...but it doesn't. Thinking about you and your family.

sonja lange

Hosting will be the perfect distraction, and being surrounded by so much love will help ease the pain. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful family and readers that love all of you like we were ACTUALLY friends. I read you almost daily and I tear up thinking of you during this holiday season but I know that you are tough and will be just fine.


Wishing you the best of the Season, Amy.


I'm going to be experiencing the first Christmas without my mom. I feel like I'm a big ball of depressing mess, but at least I have a toddler to help me smile a bit this weekend.

I also had my first birthday without her this week, and that BY FAR was the hardest "first" yet.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. And happiness in 2012.


My dad died right before Thanksgiving last year. The holidays were (obviously) difficult, but I had expected it to be easier this year. And then I just totally fell apart the day before Thanksgiving. We're hosting Christmas, and I'm excited about it, but there's this underlying anxiety and sadness.


I think your dad would be proud that you're so excited for the boys to open their presents. So there's that. And also? Fuck cancer.


honey, he will be there

he's part of you, he's part of each of your gorgeous little boys - there will be fabulous stories told and half-recalled memories relived and you'll catch yourself turning and looking for him

and that's gonna' hurt

but know this, he is there and as long as you carry him in your heart, he'll always be there

much love to you and yours

Mad Merlot Mama

I'm so sorry, Amy. I promise I'm, not trying to spam you, but would a story of breath-taking dumbassery help? If so,

If not, I'm sorry I linked it. Chin up, sweetie. The Interwebs are here for you, with all our love and support


Ditto. J's grandmother passed on Thanksgiving. It was ALWAYS Christmas Eve with her. Always. The kids are excited for Christmas day, but this first holiday is always so tough. Peace and Goodwill to you.

Plano Mom

29 years. Forget cancer, fuck death.


It is so hard. We lost my father suddenly, and Christmas was his favorite. So I keep on hanging the pink raspberry ornament ("No, Dad it's a pinecone!") that we laughed and argued over every year. And I smile through my tears and hold my children that much tighter. Wishing you laughter through your tears, and as much Merry as you can bear.


Oh thank you, thank you for reminding me to hug my mom and dad extra hard this year and to take the extra moment to just BE with them and not be all caught up in the whirlwind. It's so, so easy to take parents for granted, even when you're an adult and fully aware of mortality. Thank you again, joy and comfort to your family.

Susan H.

I know.


Sending you and your family love this Christmas. Make sure you allow yourself to feel the sads so you also get the happy parts completely. You know, yin and yang shit.


Of course he'll be there with you - each of you carries him in your heart.

Kathy W


I lost both of my parents this year.

I get it.

What's hard is wanting to talk about it and yet not wanting to talk about.

He's with you. I truly think the moment when our hearts hurt the most is when they are spiritually closest to us on the other side. They come stand beside us and something deep inside recognizes that familiar pull. Then they drift back off to watch us from that better place and our hearts hurt a little less.

(((Hugs))) and an extra splash of something adult in your eggnog.

nicolette @ momnivores dilemma

I'm with ya on the dad front, Amy. 4th year without him. I wish I could say that it does get easier, but I'd be lying.

It just stings a bit less each year.

I'm hosting for the first time too. It's okay to just clean the bathrooms, right? All else is getting throw in closets.

:) Merry Christmas to you.


I, too, have felt like the Grinch because I have posted some less-than-cheerful things about Christmas this year. It's just horrible that last year was the LAST year and we didn't know. Last year was the LAST time my perfect husband helped me set the table for Christmas dinner and made all those last-minute runs to the store on Christmas Eve. And this year isn't the kind of "first" we thought it would be.
Yes, fuck cancer indeed.
Try to see your Dad in the light in the kids' eyes this year. I know he'll be there.


I ended up crying in a closet the first Christmas after my dad passed. Fuck cancer indeed


Oh Amy, I'm sorry for your heartache, and this post did bring a little tear to my eye (right before Christmas, how dare you!) but it also put a big smile on my face. As much as it makes losing him even harder, it really warms my heart to see what an amazing relationship you had with your dad. He must have been a very special man, and I'm sure your love filled him with so much joy. I'm sorry this Christmas will be hard, but I'm also so happy for you that you had such a wonderful father!


Oh. This made me think of traveling with my kids, and maybe some day my family traveling here instead. And then we got to the end and I felt myself crumple and my eyes sting. I like the cookie plan. Keep that a yearly tradition. *sniff*


Yes. I really do "get it." If that helps. (Probably doesn't). :-/ . I just...I know. My sincere condolences.


It is okay to be sad--and it is okay to be happy for the happy parts too. I'm not Christmas-y this year because I was supposed to be pregnant, not recovering from a miscarriage. I keep having to tell myself that is okay to be sad and it is okay to be happy. Because I am both--and it hurts. I know you aren't overly religious, but I am praying for you to have peace this Christmas season.


He'll be there. Maybe not in the physical sense, but through traditions, and memories, and through your family. My dad passed away when I was 10, and 18 years later the holidays are still sad without him, but it is comforting to know that he IS with us through so many small things that we do. Wishing you and your cute family a Merry Christmas.


We lost my brother in law in April and I'm dreading Christmas for this reason. We're hosting at our house this year for the first time, and my mother in law is coming to us. But my brother in law's kids are with his wife who isn't spending the holidays with us. So it's going to be small and quiet and well, empty.

Wishing you peace on this difficult holiday.


Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a little extra peace and love to all of you who are missing someone.


Thinking of you. As always. xo


Oh, I wish he could be there for you too. And he is, just not in the way you'd like him to be. I am so sorry. It will probably never get easier, the holidays and the missing of him, but you can bear it. And what you are bearing is a grief for a tremendous love, which is pretty great.

Happiest of holidays and the biggest of hugs.


I totally get this--my dad died on Christmas almost five years ago.

I love the expression on your dad's face in the picture with you holding up Peter Pan.

I agree with KathyW's comment, and that's how I will be trying to think of things on Christmas.

I hope that you do too!


Amy, it doesn't matter that you are not the first person to note that the holidays are difficult after a loss. It's your loss, and it is very real. So many of us have been there. I hope the holidays are magical for your boys.


I just read through all the comments and the biggest of hugs to all of you.

Normally, I dread this time of year. We spend it with my husband's family and I let my crankiness get the best of me (some deserved crankiness, some not).

But, this year, I am excited. And I think this post explains why. My girls will be with their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and dearest family friends. I cannot wait for all of them to enjoy the heck out of each other - and I know they will. And I am so grateful my heart has opened to let this in. And it will open even more thanks to all of you being honest about your grief and pain during this supposedly specialist time of the year. Thank you.


I'm sorry. This is our first Christmas after having lost both my parents. My sister and I refer to it as "orphan Christmas".'s not really helping.

Hope your Christmas is filled with plenty of warmth and kids and laughter and, well, face melting.


A beautifully written reminder to all of us to stay in the moment, appreciating all of our family and all that we have while remembering those no longer with us in person, even in this whirlwind of a season!


My sister was killed 8 days ago and I can't wait for Christmas to be over. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get through the day without losing it. I have 4 little grandchildren ages 2-6 who don't need their holiday spoiled by seeing their nana crying.


My sister was killed 8 days ago and I can't wait for Christmas to be over. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get through the day without losing it. I have 4 little grandchildren ages 2-6 who don't need their holiday spoiled by seeing their nana crying.


i've been waiting for this post too, wondering how you were doing...
this is my first christmas without my mother. for 32 years she has been there every christmas morning, as my single mother and then joining as a grandma as i built my own little family with my husband (i discovered i was pregnant with my second son, due in march, just a few weeks before she died). she passed away from cancer in august. and my husband's father died of cancer in april. we are both dancing gently around it all and seriously overcompensation with the most disgusting example of consumerism i've ever been a part of, but it is hard and it hurts. i hope we are all able to get through this christmas with love and hope and memories and i acknowledge that there is probably going to be more pain than we ever imagined when we were our children's ages.


I'm sorry, Amy. Maybe the holiday will be easier because of the change in location. I lost my mom 5.5 years ago, and although the pain has never gone away, it's more of a dull ache instead of a stabbing pain.

I love the picture of you as a toddler. Your father so obviously adored you. (And how could he not? You look *just* like Ezra there!)


My heart broke reading this post. :-(

I am still lucky enough to have both my parents. My dad, however, just called me last night to tell me that he won't be able to come in January, because his cancer is back. For the fourth time.

Fuck Cancer.


That was beautifully written. It is obvious that you had a special relationship with your Dad. I was a little upset with my dad today. The prodigal son thing...not so much anymore. Thanks for reminding me how special our Dads are!


Oh Amy, I wish I could give you a hug. You write so beautifully, and I feel your ache. It won't help, but I'll say it anyways...your Dad is there as long as you and your family remember him.

My MIL died three years ago, and she was the epicenter of the family. Turkey Day and Xmas Eve have fallen apart without her to pull everyone together...until this year, when several of us banded together in her honor. Linda was my 'real' Mom, and I ache just typing these words.

Don't know why I shared this, except to let you know that in my way I understand.


Thank you for sharing glimpses into your life with us. I've been reading your blog since Noah was a baby.



First Christmas without my Dad too, nuff said!

Sue W.

It's now been 19 years without my dad. He was such a giant kid, it's STILL hard. I can tell you that you WILL get thru this. Let the joy of your boys and the cousins and aunts and uncles and most importantly your mom wrap you up and give you that hug that your daddy can't. It's how I've gotten thru these 19 years. And hopefully feel the hug I'm sending you as well. Merry Christmas, Amy.


I lost my dad (also to cancer) a year ago in August. For me, last Christmas was a blur of "I wish I could see his face one more time." He didn't even particularly like the holidays, but not having him there to roll his eyes and carve the turkey was almost unbearable. What helped? My now seven year old daughter, (Papa's favorite)wrote a letter to Santa and Papa on Christmas Eve last year. To quote her, "Dear Papa, I miss you and I love you. I hope you are having Christmas with Grandma Peggy and your funny little dog. Please kiss give my mommy a hug for Christmas, she keeps telling us she needs one."

Heather B.

I love you. That's all. I figured you'd want to hear that about now. xo


I know. My brother died December 21, eleven years ago. It hasn't gotten....easier, exactly, but it's the new normal. His death caused a rift in the family that I've tried desperately to reach across, only to be rebuffed, so my kids only have the grandparents from my husband's side and...well. Merry frakkin' Christmas!


I lost my Mother in December 2000 and my MIL in December 2005. Christmas can be tough but it does get better. Focusing on my son, now 11 really helped. I look at Xmas as for the kids and kinda got past it that way. Hang in there and hope its not too bad.


I see your father in the faces of your boys's beautiful!
Merry Christmas ..


This is my second Christmas without my dad. I'm trying not to let the funk spread, but it's still a struggle.

Wally Hartshorn

No need to worry that you're posting something that has already been said before, Amy. Pretty much EVERYTHING that anyone posts has already been said before. However, that's only half of the equation. The other half is that it hasn't yet been said BY YOU, and that's the important half. So post anyway, and don't worry that someone somewhere might have already mentioned how much it hurts to celebrate Christmas after you've lost a parent.

P.S. You can even post it again if it HAS already been said by you. Because the most important part is that you feel the need to say it.


Your "well, duh" post gets my "well, duh" comment - you don't have to say anything original about this pain, or anything funny, or anything optimistic. It's cool. That's what this community is for, right? You skim some of the pain off the top and put it here, and that keeps your sorrow-to-the-brim heart from spilling over into your Christmas roast. Just give it to us. We'll take it for you, for a little while.

Shannon Lell

Well said, well felt, well done... as usual. I heard once that when you lose someone close to you there is no such thing as "normal" anymore. You have to make a "new normal." I'm sure you're new normal will be fabulous, just like your tribute. Happy Holidays.


I think you knowing that it's going to be hard (rather than just trying to do the SMILE! I'M FINE! routing) will make the day a tiny bit more peaceful for you. If possible, allow yourself a few minutes to go somewhere quiet & cry.

Or do something special to include your Dad, even if it's just something like lighting a candle or making a genuine, heartfelt toast over dinner.

Merry Christmas, Amy & family.

mrs. q.

I wish I could say that it gets better each Christmas. But I would be lying.


I don't know what to say, but I wanted to say something. I hope you enjoy the holiday, even though it will be bittersweet. How lucky your family is to have you! Merry Christmas.


I'm sorry you have the sadness part. I read some of the comments and have to agree with the others who've lost someone and that it still sucks. It's been 17 years since my mom died and I've been on the verge of tears the past few days because OMFG I really miss her right now.


This: "That's what this community is for, right? You skim some of the pain off the top and put it here, and that keeps your sorrow-to-the-brim heart from spilling over into your Christmas roast. Just give it to us. We'll take it for you, for a little while." Well said RG


Merry Christmas, Amy.

Doesn't matter if it's obvious. It's your pain.

tracey - Justanothermommy

Sending you love, Amy. Lots of Christmas love.


They are doesn't get easier but at some point it also stops being so damn hard too. It won't always feel so fucking hard Amy, I promise.


I know. I know. I know.

My mom died on December 10th and I just don't know how to even function let alone do holiday stuff. I'm just so sad. But I've made the Christmas candy that she always made and wept. And I've wrapped all of the presents and wept. And I don't know what to do with the presents I bought her early this year. What do I do with them? I still have food in my goddamned fridge from the funeral dinner because I can't bear to throw it out. I have plants and bouquets from her funeral still on my dining room table. And my baby is almost five months old and all I want is for his Grandma to see his first Christmas. It just sucks so incredibly bad. I'm mad.

So I know. I know. I wish I could give you a giant hug and just cry together for awhile.


I lost my father in October 2010. My mother passed away 11 days ago (which just happened to be 2 days before my birthday). I too am doing way too much baking and way too much spending of money we don't have for presents we don't need but, oh - seeing my kid's faces light up Christmas morning will help light up my heart.
Wishing you Happiness and Peace.
Thanks for posting this...


Last year was my first without mine. And also my daughter's first Christmas, like, EVER. It's a strange jumble of stuff. Thinking of you.


I have no idea what it's like to be loved by a father like yours. Merry Christmas!


My uncle died 2 weeks ago from cancer, just 5 weeks after his daughter had twin girls. We hear you. Hugs from our hurting family to yours.


Merry Christmas to your adorable family. Thanks so much for sharing your family with all of us. Thinking of you. . .

Jessica V.

I love how much you love your Dad - it comes through in all your stories, and the pictures of you and him together show how much he loved you too.

Much love to you and your family this Christmas.


My grandma passed away in July and everyone always went to her house for Christmas. This year I am hosting Christmas in a house we moved into 3 weeks ago. I'm looking forward to it for several reasons. But the biggest one is that it's different and I'm hoping it will be a smidge easier to get through.


I am so sorry...and what is so fucked up is that my mom, who was diagnosed with cancer in August and is on chemo right now, is choosing to wallow in her depression instead of spending the time with my kids. I am so angry and hurt that she won't get past her selfishness to see that her grandsons need to see her--even if she doesn't feel like celebrating. If this turns out to be the "last" Christmas, I am going to be really upset next year--fuck cancer. hugs...


My dad died almost 12 years ago, and I still remember so clearly that first Christmas. It's just so hard. I actually just blogged about it the other day:

Good luck this weekend- I'll be thinking of you...


My grandmother died on Dec. 10, over a decade ago. Silent Night was playing in the room when she died.

Now, my 5 year old has learned the words to Silent Night - and I am a damn tear factory EVERY TIME he sings it. Every time.


I'm so sorry your happiness will be tempered by sadness, I really am. Sending you peaceful vibes (hoping that means something).


I'm sorry. It's not fair.


Thinking of you, Amy *hugs*


Please, please, be gentle with yourself, Amy. You put so much pressure on yourself. Christmas is always complicated, and I don't know any adults who don't have some bittersweet feelings this time of year. Go ahead and bum me out -- I have the Grinch on DVD, I'll be fine. And I say this very softly, because everyone grieves differently - my dad's been gone 18 years, my Nana who loved Christmas has been gone 5, and. Loved them both very, very much. Nothing has ever been as raw as those first holidays were. I miss them still, I cry still, they will always be a part of me. But it is easier. The memories don't catch us on the quick as much, we can say their names and remember the love rathr than the pain. All grief honors the ones we've lost. Please feel free to share yours.


Beautifully written, Amy. Hold on to the memories- they are yours.


Oh Amy, the first everythings when someone has gone are so damn hard. I'm sorry for you and your family. We are on our 10th Christmas without Mom this year; it still sucks terribly, but it's not gut wrenching anymore.

Merry Christmas to your family. I'll be thinking of you.


I'm with ya on the fuck cancer, i lost my grandfather not long ago. My dad well can't say what to feel since I lost him when I was 3. I hate thinking of lost love ones and breaks me up everytime.

Wishing your family safe travels and Merry Christmas.

Suzy Q

Been there. Still there, in some ways.

Your dad will always live on in your children. I hope y'all have a rambunctious, chaotic, happy day!



Merry Christmas Amy. I hope that hosting and the joy of little kiddos at Christmas time provide some distraction for you. Thank you for a year of lots of laughs and a few tears, all of which make me feel not so alone in being the mom of three little ones.


I lost my mother right around Thanksgiving, eleven years ago. Christmas has never been the same since. I don't have kids, but I think yours will be the heart and soul of every Christmas to come. We're all looking forward to your photos of Christmas morning. Maybe the most important thing is this: he would NOT want you to be sad. Ever.
Merry Christmas, Storches. I hope all your dreams come true.


My mom cancelled Christmas this year. Since my husband and I only do Christmas with my parents since he's Jewish, that means the abrupt end to 36 years of Christmases. I had no idea I cared so much.


Man, that makes me so sad. It's a deep fear that I have that one day I will have to face the same reality and just the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I think I might be trying to get a head start with my coping skills I guess. I hope the pain you are going through is somehow lessened by the presence of your close ones!


Hey Amy,
We're all missing your dad and our dad too. It's hard, and a very new, weird way of life. But, we're thankful for all of the memories. So many of them! Oh, and I vividly remember the year of the Peter Pan VHS. I think we watched it on repeat that year! xoxo to you and your entire, beautiful family. Hope the day is filled with joy, love, and abundant blessings!


Crying. But the good kind, that reminds me of the unlanguageable nature of life and being a person. I wish you a Merry Christmas, this year and as often as possible. Also, grandchildren, down the line.


Hey Amy,

I'm really sorry. I don't have anything amazingly helpful to say. I've been there. I'm still there after six years. I'm working on it. I know you will be, too. Good luck to both of us, and Merry Christmas.


I have a lot of the same sentiments. My father died last month, I went home to Europe to be with my family the last week of his life. We got to have him at home the last few days. I am 38, but it doesn't matter, I just want to hug my dad on Christmas day. Watching the children eases the pain a bit though. God bless you and your family, and thank you for a good blog.


Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!

My grandmother (my mom's mother) passed away on the 17th very unexpectedly. It has no doubt been a difficult holiday for our family, but the happy memories have kept us going through most of it. I think it's going to be hardest when all is said and done... when this week and next are over and life goes back to 'normal' and it really has the chance to sink in.

I don't think we ever stop missing the people we love, but I think that's how their memories get to live on.

marissa paxton

I lost my dad two years ago to cancer and it is awful. Cancer is a terrible thing


Amy, when you post about your family and especially about losing your dad, it makes me feel so much less alone. So thank you.


So sorry for your loss. My Dad has been gone 5 years and it sucks. Effing sucks. He loved Christmas so it makes it all the harder without that magical person in your life. Hang in there. There is something beautiful about the family they helped create - joining together and remembering them. You will survive. It won't ever be 'easy' but it does become the new normal.

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