I found the holidays harder this year than I thought I would. It is the second year without my parents. The first is a bit of a blur. I know it was hard and I also remember my friends all making sure I had enough to do for the holidays. So much that I felt a little exhausted and overstressed, and I feel it was better to err on that side than to not have enough to do.
This year I was busy, too, but took more time to reflect. My mom really loved Christmas. She used to make Christmas trees out of pinecones. Everyone in our family has them, sometimes more than one. She put her largest one up every year around Thanksgiving on a tray table in front of the picture window. From outside, it looked like regular tree with the lights and garland. She had other trees in almost every room of the house. A couple weeks before Christmas she and my dad put the big tree up. I loved all the ornaments. Mom liked to buy an ornament everywhere they traveled, so there were ornaments from a couple World's Fairs, from Disneyworld, from their trip to Europe. Then there were the ones the nuns made for her every year when she volunteered at the Bethlehem Infirmary. And ones we'd made over the years. I was so upset when I was little that Mom always hung my gingerbread ornament (which actually looks more like King Kong -- I was about 4 when I made it) inside the tree where it couldn't be seen very well. Mom was a little more concerned with aesthetics than sentiment when it came to the tree. It was beautiful, and was like looking at a history of our family.
We split the ornaments, so I have about a third of them. Last year it was hard to put them on my tree, but this year I really enjoyed it, despite feeling sad. King Kong is in the front -- so goofy he is cute. And there are the theater mask ornaments from New Orleans when my mom and dad went there on an Elder Hostel trip. And some Pluto ornaments and a whole lot of others I remember from when I was growing up.
This year I thought a lot, too, about Mr. Postulka, the man in prison now for killing my parents. It must be a terrible way to spend a holiday. A life. The only thing bleaker seems to me to be death. I believe there must be consequences for his actions. Yet I only feel more sad when I think of him. I am glad he is somewhere where he can't drive, but he's also somewhere where he can do nothing to even try to make up for what happened. Nothing can bring my parents back. But I wish there were some sort of release program where he could go out and work for groups either to help families who've lost loved ones or do other community service to try to make some positive change. Or even pay back the government what it contributed through Medicare to my dad's hospital bills.