Friday, January 15, 2010

Signing Christmas Cards

How do you sign Christmas cards? Generally, in my experience anyways, it is the woman in the relationship that signs cards. So I sign them from Rachel and Brian. Even though, more often than not, Brian has nothing to do with the card. He did think about how we needed to send a card, he did not buy the card, he did not think of anything to write in it, but yet it seems appropriate to sign his name. The thought that matters and all that. Since having Jackson I also sign his name on it too. Which sometimes amuses me since he has even less to do with the card. And now there is Lexi. Her name got thrown on all the Christmas cards too. Did she care if everyone had a good Christmas? Probably not since she doesn't understand the concept of Christmas. Heck, she doesn't even understand the concept of 'good'. And yet it is the thing to do to sign the card from everyone in the family.

Which brings me to today's topic. It did not seem right to me to sign the card from everyone in our family and not include Benjamin at all. When you really think about it Lexi wanted everyone to have a good Christmas just as much as Benjamin did. But how do you casually include your stillborn son on a Christmas card? A while ago I started signing things that were from all of us and included a '+1'. Quite often it is just small near the bottom corner of a card so that people might not really notice it, but it's there for me. He's still included. It seems silly that I feel he needs to be included on something so trivial as a Christmas card. But it's just another way to keep him included in our family and to keep the memory of him alive in everyone's mind.

It seems, as time goes on, that people tend to 'forget' about Benjamin. I know no one has actually forgotten about him, but he is barely mentioned anymore. On Christmas day I opened a card from one of Brian's aunts and she addressed it to Brian, Rachel, Jackson and Lexi. But then on the side she wrote a star and said 'and never forgetting our special boy'. What did I do? Burst into tears. That was the only mention of him that day. I know my family and Brian's family were thinking about him, but no one actually spoke of him. I don't know what I would have preferred. If everyone had talked about him then it might have been more outwardly sad. We all knew that someone was missing from the celebrations and that it was just unfair, but at the same time he was there in everyone's minds.

And at what point do I move forward and stop looking back so much? A friend asked me if I was getting an ornament this year for Benjamin. I told her that I wasn't because I felt that if I got one this year then next year I'd feel I had to again, and when would that end? I don't want the tree to be filled with ornaments for Benjamin to the point that there are less ornaments for my living children. I don't want them to feel in the shadows of their brother. I know, I know, they are just small little ornaments. But I would want them to be front and center on the tree. So no. I am not going to get him an ornament every year. I got him a beautiful one last year and I will put it on the tree every year, in a place of prominence. But I will not specifically go out and buy him a new one each year.

He would have been 13 1/2 months this Christmas. He would have just had practice opening presents at his birthday and would have been a pro at ripping into the Christmas presents. Jackson and him would have been little terrors, feeding off each other, and having a blast. It would have been hectic and crazy. And I would have loved every second of it.

1 comment:

  1. It's been nearly three years for me since Kenneth was born and died, and to some extent I still look back. I think it's normal and natural when you've lost your child to think about what might have been.

    I don't send out cards for the most part, but I do include Kenneth when people ask me about my children. He is still my child, even if he's not here with me. I carried him for 39 weeks and loved him from the moment I knew about him, and that hasn't changed because Heaven holds him instead of me.

    The Christmas ornament thing... well, we've decided that we'll get an ornament for each of our children every year. It's a way of including Kenneth in our family without letting him overshadow my living child. I have the same thoughts about finding ways to include Kenneth and tell Grant about him without allowing Grant to feel like he's constantly living in the shadow of his dead brother. I used to go to church with a girl whose parents had lost a baby before she was born, and they constantly compared her to the child they'd lost. I can remember thinking "If I were ever in that situation, I'd never do that to my other children". Funny how that ended up being a bit of foreshadowing of my future. Anyway, the way I handle it is that I have pictures of Kenneth on the walls along with my other family pictures, and when I show the pictures to Grant, it's sort of like this: "Look, there's Mommy, and there's Daddy. There's Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Ben and Aunt Rachel. There's baby Grant, and there's baby Kenneth". I figure that at some point, Grant will ask me who Kenneth is, and then I'll tell him however much I think he's old enough to understand.