And then last year, 12 days before Christmas, my sister died. Needless to say, we were all pretty much numb for the holidays. I went back to work shortly before New Years and couldn't bring myself to take the decorations down. So my mom and my nephew did it one day while I was at work. See... Jamie was BRIGHT. She had some pale green, bronze, and gold ornaments... That went on a light purple tree. That was her tame tree. The tree in the living room? Was white, with a mostly red, hot pink, lime green, and turqouise/aqua-ish ornaments, along with her variety of ornaments that she had bought or been given (glittery cupcakes, a frog prince, two Frosty ornaments, ornaments the kids have made). That tree was fondly called the Dr. Suess tree. So there was a lot of her personality tied up in it. Christmas is just... JAMIE for us. Last year we were numb, this year we're remembering...
I remember in 2009, Jamie was managing the gas station that I managed for a while after her. One of our regular customers has a sick wife and kids that stay in trouble, and bunch of sweet little grandkids. He can't hold down a regular job, because he's always having to take off to take care of someone, so he works his butt off doing odd jobs for extra money. He barely eats because the less he eats, the more food there is for his grandbabies. The babies were tiny that year, three of them, from 9 or 10 months old to 5 or 6 years. The store has an annual Christmas party, and Jamie had all of the employees (and even a lot of the customers) donate whatever they could toward a family in need. Then we went shopping, and let me tell you, those babies didn't want for a thing that year. My bargain shopper sister loaded her car up with clothes and shoes and toys (even up to a kitchenette for the girls) and we wrapped it all, and told him that him and his grandbabies HAD to be at the Christmas party. Jamie bebopped around that day with reindeer antlers on her head, and when the babies started opening the presents, their grandfather cried. He sobbed, he was so grateful and so happy, and we all felt so good to have been a part of blessing that family. So last night, when we were starting to decorate, and Mark pulled out a pair of reindeer antlers, I teared up and almost lost it.
I remember Jamie watching Frosty every year as far back as I can remember (she was nine years older than me) and crying every year when Frosty melted. Every year. It didn't matter how many times she watched that freakin' movie, she was going to cry. Last night, Mark hung one of the Frosty ornaments on the front of the tree while I was putting ornaments on the back. I was looking at the ornaments that he had hung, and got to Frosty, and I lost it. I left the room and cried until I hyperventilated. I guess that was all I needed, because after that, I felt better. We got the tree up with most of the ornaments on it, and then, drained, we went to bed.
I worked on decorating some more this afternoon, and the kids helped. They put some decorations up outside, and hung more ornaments on the tree, and I set a few things out. I'm going to do a little more tomorrow, and maybe then we'll be done. But, for now, it's starting to look like Christmas around here again.
Jamie loved dragonflies because Tyler (her son who died at 4 years old) used to call her his dragonfly. So the kids each put one of her dragonfly ornaments on the tree for her.
Will and I went to Callaway Gardens in Georgia over his birthday weekend last year for the first weekend of their Festival in Lights celebration a few weeks before Jamie passed away. We brought her back this frog ornament.
The finished tree
Some of the other decor around the house.