I love Christmas! The bright colors. Cool weather. Merry music. Everyone in a good mood. Holiday parties. Gifts. Family. Friends. And of yeah, lots of great deals! ;)

But Christmas isn't something everyone looks forward to.

This Christmas will be our last to go visit family (on the actual day), as next year we'll start our own traditions. So this Christmas is a little bittersweet for us. I'm so excited to do our own thing next year, but I also want to relish in the traditions I've enjoyed up till now.
  • Christmas Eve morning at the Galleria, watching holiday shoppers hustle and bustle about, trying to get last minute gifts. Then going to lunch with my dad and his siblings.
  • Our big annual Christmas Eve party.
  • Midnight church... which has recently turned into afternoon church. Who can really stay up that late and then get up early Christmas morning?
  • The gift unwrapping free for all at one house and then going to the next house and being expected to take turns opening gifts!
  • Going house to house. To most people this seems insane. And it is. Especially now with 5 families and 5 houses. But I don't know any different. I've been doing this my whole life. I will never subject my child to that because I don't think it's fair. But I'm not sure opening gifts in the morning and then having a quiet afternoon will do so well with me... we'll just have to come up with something fun to do!
So there's all that.

But then there's also last Christmas, which will now forever be burned into my memory. It was our last Christmas with my brother. And the fact that he was using was so apparent. When we came back from our trip to see family, I knew for certain that he had relapsed and that he was in deep. What do I do with that memory? With the memory of him slurring and then sleeping all day the next day? And others I can't bring myself to say?

And what about this Christmas? Silly I know - but it used to be two of us that had gotten too old for some of the big Santa gifts. Two of us that enjoyed watching as our siblings got excited about their gifts, long after we had finished opening ours. And what about family dynamics? With divorce so rampant in my family, the size of my family is always growing and shrinking... Austen was my constant. He was always there as it grew and shrank - as siblings were born, as parents divorced, as parents remarried, and as I married. There will be more people at Christmas this year, but we'll also be one less. How will it not feel like there's a void?

Every time I see my siblings together, in their pairs, I miss him. Every time our parents change the rules for the younger siblings, I miss him. And every time the shape and size of our family changes, I do and will continue to miss him.

Praying I can remember some of the good times this Christmas and enjoy loving on those around me.

And for the rest of you, I don't mean to be a downer. This year Christmas just brings with it a lot of mixed emotions. But for your enjoyment... check out this awesome Christmas picture I found from back in the day.

I was 5. And Austen was 3 1/2.


  1. What a sweet picture Ashleigh. It's so hard I know. Having a baby so soon after losing your brother will help bring a lot of joy especially to Christmas, but the void will always be there. Every Christmas for me, the fact that Mom is gone is made that much more obvious. She was the center of our family, one where dynamics have changed since dad remarried. Christmas is different, but with my husband and daughter we now get to start our own traditions. While different, it does bring joy.

    Try to put the bad memories can be hard. Focus on the times he was your constant - your sweet brother. :-)

    I'll be thinking of you. Hugs!

  2. Oh heart aches for you. I know it is always so bittersweet for traditions to's hard to grow up! It was tough for me to get used to new traditions when I got married, and I'm sure kiddos will bring changes once again. Holidays are always a tough time without loved ones. Your brother's spirit will be with y'all. I pray that your heart finds peace and contentment being with your family and friends during this time...may they bring you comfort and fill your heart with love!

  3. Thats funny b/c Austen looks 5 and you look 3 1/2!


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