Yes! I have officially made it through all of the "first" holidays without Sammi. Being on this side of the holiday season, I can reflect and look back on everything, and I can definitely say that the anticipation of the holidays was the worse part. Leading up to each holiday, I tended to think about all the holidays of the past, and started to wonder what this holiday season would be like. How should you act that first holiday? I wondered if I should change the normal flow of the day, or if it was even ok to keep it the same and be happy.
Now that I have survived them, I can say what worked best for me. I kept a lot of our normal traditions, but I did change a couple little things, in order to create new traditions without Sammi. My other daughter is getting older and I actually gave her, her Christmas present early, and I made sure my soon-to-be-step-daughter was at her mother's house Christmas morning, so we were able to rearrange our Christmas Day schedule. We all slept in, casually had breakfast, then opened some presents. We visited some friends and family in a drive by/drop in fashion, then had immediate family come by at 5pm. At 6pm, we video chatted with our Florida family, and tears were shed when we unwrapped a personalized memorial wind chime for Sammi.
The biggest suggestion I have for anyone who has experienced a loss of a loved one, is allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to feel all emotions. It is ok to cry, it is ok to laugh, and it is ok to feel everything you want and need to feel. It is healthy to have a moment where you break down and cry. It's also healthy to start laughing at yourself in the middle of that emotional break down.
This Christmas was one of the best ones I have ever had. I went into it with low expectations and I made myself stay relaxed. I made sure I was surrounded by family and loved ones all day, and that I allowed myself to remanence, miss, and feel. This easy-going vibe is what allowed me a day with no anxiety, and allowed me to be thankful for each and very moment I had. After all, that is really what it is all about; living the life that we are blessed with, in honor of those loved ones who no longer can.