I always said when Steve passed away that I didn’t want the ‘Who is going to have Mum for Christmas’. Well, it’s beginning to happen. We always meet up every other year with our children. Do we can always be together at some point . Shift work has always been a big part of our life, police officers, firefighters and nurses. So sometimes we have our family meal in November. We got together last year as it was the first year of Steve’s passing. I knew it would happen, they have the other halves parents to see this year. I thought I as ready, but now I’m in bits. My children are trying to do their best, but they have other responsibilities. Any ideas?
I am sorry to hear the prospect of Christmas is triggering such sadness for you at the moment. It sounds as if you are already used to the concept of celebrating special occasions when it suits your family, and not when the calendar says. Maybe you could have a ‘Montague Christmas meal’ with your children at a different date?
I have stepchildren, and the only way to avoid conflict, heart-break and weirdly split holidays for them is to celebrate with them whenever we happen to see them next. The important thing is that we acknowledge and share their special occasions, not that it happens on a particular day.
It sounds as if that is maybe not possible or ‘the done thing’ in your family, but could you not join your children at the celebration they have with their spouse and parents-in-law? One additional person hardly seems an inconvenience. Mine and my husband’s parents loved celebrating all together once we got them used to it.
You mentioned shift workers: maybe it would comfort you to consider that many, many couples spend special days apart while one of them or both are working shifts? I myself have spent many Christmases and every New Year I can remember alone in the house with a good book and a cat on the sofa, while my husband works 12 hour shifts. I realise knowing my husband elsewhere is not the same as the heartbreak of being reminded what you used to have, but maybe it could make a solitary Christmas feel less exclusively connected to bereavement?
And there’s always the possibility of doing something new at Christmas, creating new traditions - such as sharing a meal with other people who will be alone at Christmas whom you do not know, or do not know very well. I have spent one Christmas cooking together with an acquaintance whose husband was abroad. It was a lovely day and we are much better friends for it now.