Today is January 2nd and a sigh of relief can be heard in houses across the nation. The weeks of preparation are over and we officially made it through another holiday season. Since Halloween, we have been continuously reminded of everything that will make this holiday bright. From advertisements to TV shows, from music on the radio to store displays; we hear repeatedly about the must-have gifts, the how-to’s of hosting a festive party, and of all that is needed to bring joy to the world. And with little sleep and disregard for our wallets, we collectively attempt to make this year another perfect holiday.
January 2nd comes around for me and I also breathe a sigh of relief. But my exhale has nothing to do with the exhaustion of making a perfect holiday. Mine comes from holding my breath to keep from falling apart. It’s like I have jumped into a deep pool and fill my lungs with enough air to prevent myself from drowning. The air filling my lungs providing the power to push through until I can bring my head above water again. One deep breath to stop from drowning.
I take a deep breath on Thanksgiving and hold it for the next 5 weeks.
I push through another end of the year, making my way to January. It is hard to believe that this is the forth holiday without Julia. I go through the motions trying to keep the family traditions alive, but it doesn’t feel the same. We try to decorate the house, but it isn’t as festive. Some people say you just settle into a “new” normal, but there is nothing normal about this. Our perfection ended years ago.
So today, I can exhale. It’s over. I have made it through another December. With the calendar changing to a new month, it’s time to move on, to snap out of this melancholy, to be productive again.
I spent the day working on items for Julia’s foundation. While working on the computer, I came across a file titled “Julia Barbie”. It was downloaded years ago but was soon forgotten. A file of photos from our last perfect Christmas, taken from Julia’s must-have gift, the Barbie Photo Fashion Doll. We thought it was a crazy idea when Julia asked for it – a Barbie doll with a camera built into the torso. But, we wanted to make it a perfect Christmas, so we fulfilled Santa’s list.
I open the file forgetting the photos contained inside. And there it was, the first practice photo taken with Julia’s special gift. The memory comes back to me. In the file of poor quality photos saved for these past few years, is Julia, head tilted looking over her left shoulder with her beautiful infectious smile. I remember the photo being taken. I looked down at it saying it was fuzzy, that the picture wasn’t clear. Then I remember Julia taking the Barbie from my hand, looking at the blurry photo and giving her approval – “it’s great, it’s perfect”. But that was Julia, she appreciated everything, perfect or not.
I continue to look through all the photos in the file, photos Julia took of her friends from play dates on days that followed. Blurry perfect photos. The tears fill my eyes, but behind every tear there is a memory and a smile.
So, it is another new year. I know it will never seem normal again, it will never be perfect. But today, in that flash of memory, I was reminded to appreciate everything, no matter how blurry, how imperfect.
Happy January 2nd. Happy Imperfect New Year.