adulting on christmas

I have this distinct memory of Christmas as a kid...riding in a car for hours to get to Granny's house, of stepping out onto that smooth concrete in the carport that the cousins and I would be skating on later, seeing Granny open up her screen door and leaning out a little, waiting for us to come inside. I remember her hugs, and the smell of stale cigarettes as I walk into her kitchen. I remember the silver tinsel on the Christmas tree, most of which floated to the floor or on top of the presents crowded under the tree. I remember making a pallet on the living room floor to sleep on since the adults got to have the bedrooms. I remember my brother and cousin stealthily opening up their presents Christmas Eve to see what they got, then carefully taping them back up so no one would notice. I remember Christmas morning. I remember the anticipation and the excitement and the joy.

Honestly, I can't really remember the presents I opened (except for that one time I got a hat with a huge sunflower on the front and my cousin Brook got a similar one, plus matching overalls. Those kinds of things are hard to forget...) but I do remember all the feelings. And I miss those. And the people. I miss them too.

Adulting at Christmas is hard. I've heard it gets better when you have kids, and you sort of get to relive that Christmas magic through them, but I'm not there yet. I'm not a kid and have no kids. I'm an adult. Who just ate a double quarter pounder from McDonalds for dinner on Christmas Eve. (And I still can't decide if that's the saddest thing I've ever heard, or if the sadder thing is the fact that someone was working the drive through window at McDonalds on Christmas Eve.)

Is anyone else with me on this? I feel kind of guilty saying this out loud, since Christmas is really about the birth of the Savior of mankind and all that, but the struggle is real ya'll. What is it about this time of year that makes me dislike being an adult?! It's like the best part of being a kid was Christmas-time, and the best part of Christmas-time is being a kid.

Maybe it's just the unholy amount of saturated fats I just consumed, but I'm a little sad now.Will it ever be the way it was? Can it? Should it? And is it all in my head? Did my parents feel then the same way I do now? Will we continue to miss the gift we never knew we had?!

Yeah I really don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know I get to go to my parents' house tomorrow morning, and I will probably show up in my pj's (if only I still had a yellow onesie...), and mom will make breakfast, and the coffee snob in me will be grateful that my parents are coffee snobs too.

I have many things to be grateful for: a beautiful, loving family, a cute puppy dog, a Creator of the universe who sent his only son to die for me, to name a few. I know that tomorrow can be whatever I make of it, and more than likely it will be a good day. Sometimes I just miss the stale cigarettes and silver tinsel, you know?

Anyway, Merry Christmas. Ya filthy animals. ;)



dear drake,

It's crazy how you can miss someone so much that you never even knew.

I just spent the last five days with my cousin (your mom), Brook. She is the cousin I am probably closest to, because we are the closest in age and share an affinity for Andrew Keegan, Twizzlers and Dawson's Creek (even though she's Team Dawson and I'm totally Team Pacey). She is the cousin that introduced me to Nirvana and Doc Martens and Sonic the Hedgehog. She gave me someone to talk to during family get-togethers. She even broke up with my 7th grade boyfriend for me because I was too scared to do it myself (still sorry about that, Steven). Brook is the most outright, honest, no-nonsense, independent woman I know. I love spending time with her because she reminds me of what  it looks like to be yourself, and to be ok with it.

I also got to meet your dad for the first time. I can't tell you how lucky you are to have Dillan for a daddy. Not only does he adore your momma, he is also hard-working and faithful and kind. I am so proud to be a part of his family now too. And that includes his parents, your grandparents. They feel like home, and I loved them the second I met them.

When I heard about what happened, that you were born unexpectedly last Monday, straight into Heaven, without ever taking a breath on your own, I was absolutely rattled. I had to leave work for the day. My first thoughts were of your parents, who were so excited about you coming into their lives. I didn't understand why this was happening, the same thought I get every time something bad happens to someone good. I don't even try to understand their heartbreak; honestly I think it would kill me.

All I could think about for the next five days was getting to your mom. I know I hadn't seen her in over two years, but now it just seemed so wrong that I would be so far away from her while she was going through something so terrible. I was finally able to make it up there on Saturday, and as soon as I saw her I hugged her and the tears came.

In the next couple of days I learned how truly incredible your parents are, and how blessed I am to be a part of this family of ours. They are among the strongest, bravest, most loving people I've ever known. They were so sad, but stayed so positive. They knew where you were, so they had no fear. They are missing you for now, but know they'll get to see you again one day. Some people's faith is shaken by tragedy. I think theirs was made stronger. I know you were born with and for a purpose. And you died with one too. I won't pretend to completely understand why God doesn't stop bad things from happening to us, but I do know that He can take something really awful and make it into something good.

I'll be honest, I'm still sad that I don't get to meet you and see the man you become. But as hard as it is for us, I trust that you are doing well, looking down on us with that sweet smile. It's probably weird to say this out loud, but I'm kind of jealous of you up there in Heaven with the Big Daddy, and your grandma Julie and Aunt Laura and Granny and so many others I've had to say goodbye to down here. I am glad to know I have family there though, and that you are now and will always be taken care of.

I am reminded of what my friend Hannah taught me a while back when she went through something similar - the best thing we can do to honor your memory is to remember you, love you and move forward with hope. So here I am remembering you. I loved you even before I saw those sweet pictures of you that cousin Kena took. You were perfect and beautiful. I know that pales in comparison to how you are now, truly perfect and beautiful beyond compare...

I really do miss you, but please know that you will never be forgotten. You will always be my sweet baby cousin Drake, and you will always and forever be loved.

Cousin Jessi

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk across the waters, wherever you would lead me..."