When we brought out the boxes of Christmas decorations, the ornament on top was one of a set a friend made for us last year with everyone’s names on it. This one was Josh’s, and it was like a fist in the stomach. We have all been thinking of him so much lately, because all of these firsts have happened so rapidly since his death. A month after he died was Aubry’s birthday, her first one and one he and Hannah planned so excitedly. Then there was Halloween and the pictures of her last year in her little Boise State cheerleader costume-his favorite team, you know. Thanksgiving and it was the first time most of our extended family had met him. Now, Christmas coming up and all of these incredibly great memories for all of us, but each memory is paired with great pain. I hate this for all of us, but especially for Hannah. She ran into Josh’s dad at Wal-Mart a few days ago, and it was really hard for both of them; again and still, all of the what-ifs and the should-have-beens.

My funk is over, at least temporarily, because it has hit me fully how goddamned lucky I am. I have all of my children, and even though Eli will still be in jail at Christmas, I know where he is, and he is alive. Is there anything more fundamentally beautiful than that? Really? I don’t think so, not for me. I know this seems so simple, but truly, it is.

The rest of it? Well. I am sure there will be other days when I feel the same, feel the same despair and worry about money and I doubt I am ever going to come to love the month of December. Still and all, we have the money for the important things. We have managed to buy Hannah a little more time in terms of her attorney, and her custody fight for Aubry is way more important than any kind of material goods. We have a beautiful house we love, and get to spend our first Christmas in it. We have the money for food and for shelter, for gifts under the tree. They might not be the bigger ones we were planning on, but I am sure some of you remember there was a time when I truly did NOT have money for any of those things (and I have never, ever forgotten that Christmas, and pay it forward as much as I can, even in small ways). My kids are not greedy kids; they will be happy with whatever they get, because each gift will have been chosen with love and care. They have plenty and more, and I think on some level they are aware that we have been blessed enough to be able to buy new shoes and pay for activities and keep them in coats and the list goes on…again, that hasn’t always been the case. I remember it, and I hope they do as well.

Lucky. Blessed. Whatever word you use, it all amounts to the same thing; I truly have everything I need right now, and so do my kids. Hannah and Eli might both feel a lot differently, but give them another few years; I am sure they will get there as well. This is a hard year, for a lot of reasons, but at the same time, it is a beautiful year.


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