Saturday, November 8, 2014

Reclaiming Christmas, Not So Fast

john and i didn't do a christmas card last year. we didn't do a lot of things we usually do last year. didn't get a tree. didn't hang up stockings. in the wake of losing noah, we just had zero motivation or energy. and my heart would sting every time i even tried because all i could feel was his void. i wrote a bit about this tough season on the blog last year.

i didn't know what to expect this year. we have miles, so there was a glimmer of hope to potentially reclaim pieces of the holidays back. but i don't think i expected it to still be so hard... and it's not even thanksgiving.

our last support group was heavier than usual. as john and i were driving home we both commented how everyone just seemed, i don't know, more depressed. there are a number of reasons why this could have been.. it was the birthday of one of the baby girls who had died, that added an extra layer of sorrow. it was also the first really, really rainy, yucky day of the season. weather can definitely play a part. it could have also just been a fluke. my hunch, however, is that it was because the holidays are approaching. we all know it. we feel it. we can't escape it.

i need to brace myself. to be ready. because as i go along my merry little way this holiday season, the grief can hit me like a truck.

it happened for the first time last week.

i'm a sucker for shutterfly. the online card, book and calendar making business which seems to always have a new sale or deal going on that i can't refuse. it usually ends up looking like, "you bought a calendar, these 16 prints and birthday card, now all you have to do is spend 10 more dollars and you get free shipping!" so i rack my brain trying to come up with something, anything, to spend more money on. because GOD FORBID i lose out on FREE SHIPPING.

as i was cruising around the site last week looking for something to spend money on, i came across the christmas cards. well, duh! we could use christmas cards! so i got to work on picking out the loveliest one.

i should have seen it coming. as i looked at all the sample, perfect families with their two or three gorgeous children and their professional family pictures, bragging about how bella is taking piano lessons and tim went on a business trip to new zealand, i could feel the knot in the pit of my stomach twist and tighten.

that will never be us. the professional pictures, maybe. but never light and easy. 

i ignored it, for the moment, and went about the creation of our christmas card.

but the tough questions came. they always do.

should we include a picture of baby isaac? he's a part of our family, and a huge part of our 2014 story. we must. but the only pictures we have are of him covered in breathing tubes and IVs, or dead. nobody wants to see that, not on a "we had such an amazing year of adventure and fun" christmas card.

and how do we include noah? a simple picture of a rainbow, just so people are reminded of him? no, that doesn't seem like enough. a picture of his memorial all decorated for his first birthday? okay. that's fine, i guess. but a little weird, perhaps.

now it asks for me to fill in the names of everyone in the family.

the butlers. who are "the butlers?"

i had to take a break. or maybe miles just woke up from his nap. either way...

when john got home from work i showed him the card. as we looked at it together, i felt sick. i started to vocalize and oddly defend my decisions on what i included and why. and i found myself saying,

we should have been celebrating a little boy turning one. 

and rejoicing about bringing a baby home from louisiana.

i don't even know who to put under "the butler family!" 

it shouldn't be this hard.

how in the hell do you sum up our year on a 5x7 piece of paper?!

and then i doubled over and bawled.

you can't. and certainly not in a way christmas cards are designed - to brag and show off.

so our christmas card is tabled for another year. and maybe forever. it just doesn't feel right. everyone we'd be sending one to knows our joy of miles. knows our heartbreak of losing baby isaac. and understands the void without noah. we don't have to give them something to pin on their refrigerator, especially if it causes us more pain and stress.

the only part of the card that brought me any sort of peace, was the back. and i'd like to share it with you now, because no one will probably ever see it.

2014 has been both tragic & wondrous for our family. Yet in its closing we are reminded, again, the reason God sent Jesus. Our Savior came, not to make our lives easy, but to be our light in the darkness. Love, pure & powerful, has come. "Merry Christmas" not from the pretty packages or sparkling lights, but because our Lord is here - He is with us. 


  1. Well this is a coincidence. I ordered our Shutterfly-deal-of-the-week Christmas cards today (before I read your blog). I've never sent Christmas cards before, and being newly married, I was kinda excited to send them. But even after I crafted the 5x7, ordered and paid for felt odd. It's funny how we seek to show our best selves, when our true selves is probably what would be more beneficial for people to see. I picked a picture of Vic and I on our wedding day. And yes, it's pretty...but our marriage isn't always pretty. The picture doesn't capture how marriage is hard work, and love is a choice. So while I understand why you didn't order your 5x7 design, I would have loved and cherished that card. Because it's you. And I love the Butler family of 5 (six counting Samson). Because who are the Butler's to me? Brave, vulnerable, selfless, heartbroken+hopeful, caring, friends. A family. A true and genuine family. Love you guys.

  2. I have been thinking about your Christmas card post ever since you first put it in the blog. I think the front of your card should be the rainbow picture and your message should be the paragraph that you wrote underneath of it. It's a message we all need. <3