Wednesday, December 12, 2018

{holiday emotions + the best gift I've received}

The holidays are full of magic and joy with beautiful things around every corner but they can also be a really tough time. This is the first year that I've truly felt that second feeling. It's that empty emotion that no matter how much Christmas joy you surround yourself with... there's still something big missing. I have so many vivid memories of Christmases growing up and knowing that this year will be different has been a hurdle I can't quite get over.

I've put a lot of thought and time into buying presents for friends and family this year along with creating gift guides and coming up with budget friendly gift ideas for y'all (that I share on my IG stories). I keep getting asked what I want for Christmas and I truly only want one thing: to spend Christmas with Kyle. Luckily, he comes home on Christmas Eve so my wish will come true. But if I'm being completely honest with myself, I want so much more. It's a wish that belongs in the past and that's what is making these days so hard for me. I want just one more Christmas with my Dad and our whole family together... more than anything. Isn't that what everyone wants though? One more day, one more hug, one more memory? 

We knew last year was going to be our last Christmas together with my Dad. I treasured every single moment and cemented each conversation in my mind. Because of that, little things have become triggers for me during this holiday season. I understand why some people feel immense sadness during the "most wonderful time of the year" because it reminds them of a time when their loved one was around. Looking at the star on top of a tree reminds me of the last 3 years that I got to put ours on the family tree with my Dad. Seeing families get dressed up for Church reminds me of the funny Christmas ties my Dad would wear. The pretty packages adorning every window reminds me of the meticulous bows my Dad would tie on every present (Mom did the wrapping and he tied the bows)!

I was kind of walking through a Christmas daydream loving all of the lights and music unsure of why I was feeling a little lost until the photo above came up on my Timehop memories yesterday. I realized that I was really missing my Dad and trying to push those emotions away - detaching myself from my own personal Christmas memories. When I look back at this time last year it was the final days with my family all together. My Dad passed away on January 9th, 2018. Sure, time has flown by, but it's also felt like I was reliving 2017 all over again with every passing day of this year. Looking back and saying "oh, this time last year"... That's what has made this holiday season so difficult for me - because it's missing a very large part of my life. A lot of our family traditions haven't happened because we're all going to be apart (the first time ever in my life) and things are changing with us growing up.

All the memories of Christmas with my family made me think about the lengths my parents would go through to give us our "big gift" in a clever way. One year we had Scrabble letters that spelled out Basketball Hoop, another year we watched a VHS (lol) of what we thought was a home movie but it was our nanny waving with new bikes next to her. They always did something clever to drum up the excitement! The year we got iPods I'm pretty sure Samantha and I legit shrieked out of excitement and scared the whole neighborhood haha.

But, I think the best gift I've ever received was watching my parents love each other so unconditionally. I'm not sure my parents even realized that despite all the toys and tech gadgets they gave my sister and me that watching them simply love each other is the present I'll treasure the most. Every time my Mom would walk into a room my Dad absolutely lit up. Even when she was wearing a Santa beard he thought she was hilarious and beautiful! To love someone so much that you would do anything for them is so amazing. Growing up my Dad made sure that my Mom knew she was always the most important woman in his life and he treated her like a queen. In Dad's final days my Mom did the same for him - she got up and made sure he had his medicine, went to work, came home to cook dinner, and made sure he ate, took more medicine and got to bed okay (all while being a support system for Samantha and me). When I was home on the weekends I would pitch in but it wasn't easy... I'm not sure how she did it on her own for so long. But that's what love is: giving yourself completely to a person without asking for anything in return. 

Every time I write a personal post like this I feel extremely vulnerable because I don't get to see the people that come to my blog and hear their reactions (aka y'all reading this right now). Sometimes, in my mind, I imagine that nobody even sees this... However, I know I'm not alone in my emotions and that this hole in my heart and crack in my smile are not mine alone to carry. So if you're reading this and you are feeling this way as well I want you to know that it's okay. That this is normal and you're allowed to cry during the holidays and be sad. Maybe you lost your Dad like me or are going through a tough breakup. Regardless of what it is - feeling every emotion possible during the holidays is okay.  It's all going to be okay. I just remind myself that I also need to smile and be happy because that's what my Dad would want.

I love Christmas so much and I find a lot of joy during this season - sometimes it just takes an old photo from a year ago to pop up and remind me what I have to be grateful for. Thanks for being a wonderful support system this year my blog readers! xoxo

Love Always,


  1. So well said, Jenn!! Beautiful words and memories. Always here for you bestie! Xo

  2. i really appreciate this sort of personal post. your parents relationship, and the relationship they modeled for you, seems wonderful. i love how they surprised you with your gifts, such special times.

  3. Such a beautiful, heart wrenching post, Jenn! I knew this holiday season would be a bit harder for you, but I applaud the fact that you put it all out there in words as a way to grieve and also help others! Just know, so many people are wrapping you in hugs (whether right there or long distance!) and that so many people are cheering you on.... and that number one person is your angel in heaven, your dad! I know he wishes he could be there with your family this year, but he gets to enjoy all the memories from afar and I know his heart is happy as he looks on at his ladies!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!


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