Her story came back to me right after Julie's death. I promised myself that I would try to be fully there for the children I had left. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out on making new holiday memories with my children and grandchildren. I resolved that I would keep Christmas. And, so I did. It was harder than I ever thought possible to put the pain and loss behind me, and I know it was hard for my children also. We did the best we could to enjoy each other, and to be honest with you, that is easy. My children are a lot of fun. I love being with them.
|Ryan checking out his new Kindle
while the kids dig into the pile of presents
|Christmas morning chaos
The gifts that seemed to get the greatest approval, were those that Jon and Samantha brought with them from Bangladesh. Each of the boys got at lungi! Soon, they were learning how to tie their new loungewear around the waist.
|Mom and Ryan with new Kindles
|Mason and Bridger
|D and Parker
|Parker entertains the troops
|Fruit basket from Aunt Suz
Thanks, again, Aunt Suzanne
|Ryan prepares deviled eggs
|Tasty and attractive dish
After brunch, he went to work on his Asian deviled eggs. I can't tell you how he made them, but they were delicious. He's a banker by day, but he also does a pretty awesome job of cooking up some pretty fancy dishes. (Note how the eggs look so nice in dish that Amy hand painted.)
|Amy's jello creation
|Hannah with new favorite blanket
with Stephanie in the background
|Bridger practices on his ukulele
At some point, Grandma and Grandpa went back to the hotel to shower and get dressed for the day. When we got back to the house, it was time for a Christmas afternoon walk to the pond so Parker, my outdoor enthusiast, could try out his new duck call whistle.
|Sister and Brother
Amy and Ryan
|Parker calling the ducks
|Bridger and Atticus
Taking a break from skimming rocks across the water
|Jason and Bridger
We missed Keicha and Gillian and wish they could have joined us. It was hard to even think of celebrating Christmas without Julie. We knew we wanted to be together, and I'm grateful that Santa answered Regan's letter and made sure that this happened.
The letter reads:
I have never written one of these but I just wanted to say thank you! Every year you have gotten me what I asked for. It is so nice. I am writing you this year because it is a very hard year for my whole family. It is hard because my Aunt Julie is gone. It will be the first year without her. We are going to Colorado because my Aunt Amy is having a hard time too, but you know what goes on in everyone's life in the world. Thank you again, and I don't mind if you can't get the aqua lap top. No matter what, you are still the best man in the world. Regan
As the family reflects on Christmas 2010, I hope we treasure the time we had together as a family. I hope we've learned to hold on to each other tightly and not take any one of us for granted. I hope that we remember that time spent together as a family cannot ever be wasted time. I hope we remember how important relationships are, and that we continue to value the ones we have. I hope each individual will continue to heal, and that all fractured relationships will also be healed. In the end, we are family. We are resilient. We try to accept each other as imperfect human beings with frailties. We try to be there for each other. We love each other deeply.
|Ryan and two of his children
Parker and Regan
We included friends of Julie's and Jon's throughout the extended time of holiday celebration. These friends have enriched our lives greatly and helped us shoulder the pain we have suffered over these past seven months. Our celebrations were not the same without Julie. We missed her laughter, her dancing to the music, and her unique personality. We missed her competitive spirit in games. We missed her caring nature. She wasn't there to put her arm around my shoulder. She wasn't there helping out in the kitchen. She wasn't there cleaning up the Christmas mess and restoring order to our surroundings and lives. She wasn't there playing games with the kids or building things with logos. She wasn't there thriving in the middle of the family chaos. She was there in our hearts, and there she will remain. Christmas will always remind us of our loss, but it will also reminded us that she was a gift to us for 34 years. We will continue to treasure her and each other as move forward into 2011 and the future.
|Julie's First Christmas