Visit Holly's blog about Human empowerment.

let it go

let it go

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Was. Christmas was my favorite holiday. I’d deck the house from top to bottom with Christmas décor and my home became a winter wonderland. I remember pulling into the garage one afternoon, sometime in April, and seeing all of the storage bins full of Christmas gear lining the garage walls. I made a comment to Mason about how ridiculous it was to have sooooo much stuff and that’s when he told me that the way we do Christmas was one of his favorite family traditions. He told me his friends’ families didn’t do it up as big and it always made him feel happy that we did! Well if THAT didn’t just make my heart burst with love and pride…!

We had a collection of nutcrackers (big ones) that would decorate the tops of the kitchen cupboards every year, and one would go into Mason’s room. He liked to have his own. We had four in the kitchen and one in his room. He’d decide where to place it, along with his own mini decorative tree and a few Xmas pillows. Yes, every room was decorated even our bedrooms and bathrooms. There was a little Christmas everywhere we looked. We loved it that way! I had special Christmas dishes with Holly trim, beautiful wine glasses with Holly accents, Christmas-themed couch pillows, bright red table runners & place mats. The list goes on and on. We loved Christmas!

xmas table

Gifts would overflow from under the tree. We wanted everyone we knew to have a little something. Wrapping was the most fun. I had every different kind of wrap and ribbon. My grandma was big on wrapping gifts and making them beautiful… and I continued that tradition. Always on the lookout for the best, cutest, most original paper, I’d end up with way too many rolls to ever use. I think my favorites were the rolls of “Naughty” and “Nice” paper that I found. Toooooo cute!

Earlier this year, I decided that I was going to leave my job and spend some time on a beach somewhere. Do some traveling. See a bit of the world. This decision prompted three garage sales and quite a few runs to the goodwill. I needed to get rid of everything in order to travel light, right? I gutted my home and attempted to sell anything and everything. It was a pretty emotional experience for me and I discovered that I really don’t like doing garage sales – hahaha! I don’t like watching people pick through a lifetime of treasures and try to bargain and dicker and basically get everything for a dollar. That really annoyed me. “No, you cannot have it for a dollar. Put it back.”  My life, my memories, all of my family stories were wrapped up in those things and they were worth way more than a buck. Well, to me they were.

I realized that I’d have to let go of ‘things’ and hold on to memories. The buyer really does determine a thing’s worth, not the seller. I had to get really good at letting things go… with the help of my darling friend, Melissa, who would see my internal struggle brewing and then start singing, “Let it go” from the movie Frozen. What a doll! We’d laugh and I’d let it go. It was her cue to me that I could and would survive without ‘the thing’ and I eventually got better at letting go.

So here I am at Christmas time in 2014… my second Christmas without my son, my sidekick, my Shmish. It doesn’t get easier, folks. It’s actually easier in the beginning because you are still numb and in shock. Your body takes you through the motions of life but protects you from feeling everything. In the moment, you are feeling and grieving and thinking you’re facing the worst, but you have no idea what’s coming. That is not the worst. You are protected by shock and your mind only allows you to process a little bit at a time.  I know that now. The shock has worn off and it’s all here… the grief, the guilt, the pain, the memories, the sadness, the absence of hope, the regrets. There is no shield. There is no shock. There is no filter.

I want to escape Christmas. I sold off a lot of my decorations.  My tree is decorating someone else’s home now. My nutcrackers are on someone else’s cabinets. My plates are collecting dust in another garage. My wine glasses are decorating a different table. Good riddance. I don’t need it. It reminds me of how much we loved Christmas, how much Mase loved our traditions, and I just cannot cry enough to adequately mourn the loss of all of that. I just want to ignore it, turn a blind eye, or just pretend it doesn’t exist. A friend asked me what I was doing in Mexico this year and I replied, “I’m escaping Christmas.” He asked if that was truly possible. It isn’t. It really isn’t. Instead, I am creating new Christmas memories.

I remember planning various travel adventures during the Xmas holidays and was so surprised when Mason came to me one Christmas and said, “I don’t like traveling on Christmas. I just want to stay here, together, in our own home and do our own thing.” He just loved Christmas together!!! My heart filled again! I canceled our plans and settled in to enjoy Christmas with my boy. It was our best Christmas ever, and little did I know then, our last.  He gave me some ornaments with a personalized message handwritten just for me, as well as a travel coffee mug that read, “Queen of the road.” Hilarious! He got a ton of things… but his faves were Bear (an enormous stuffed animal he snuggled with constantly) and a laptop. His very own. Ahhhhhhhhh, heaven.

xmas 2012

I can’t do Christmas anymore, not like we did. I have to start new traditions. I’ve been invited to a few friends’ homes but I couldn’t accept. I understand their intentions are to be inclusive, but how long could I really stay? Could I stay for a few hours, or overnight? Or maybe for a few days? Not likely. Ultimately, I have to go home. To any invitation I would accept, I’d still be a guest, not family. I’d still be watching from the outside, not truly a part of it. Their traditions aren’t my traditions, their kids aren’t my kid. I think that would just hurt more. Watching, wishing, trying to hold it together so I don’t ruin their festivities with a whole bunch of tears and snot. Nah, it’s better to escape. It’s just me now and I have to learn to survive on my own.

quen mug

While staring at the ocean yesterday, Christmas day, and wishing for more sunshine to show up, I realized that I have to learn to let it all go. I have to learn to let go of things, sure, but I also have to learn to let go of what I had hoped life would be. I have to let go of my plans. I have to let go of Mase. He’s gone. Letting him go feels like I’m tearing out my own hair, or peeling off my skin, or pulling out fingernails… he is so much a part of me that it is difficult to breathe without him. It was always just the two of us. I don’t even know who I am without him here. I realized yesterday, more so than I ever have before, that I have to let him go.

mase n bear

I cried on the beach. I looked at the cloudy sky angrily and wished the sun would just show up and burn the sadness away. I felt sorry for myself for a good hour or so. I dropped my book in the sand and grumbled, “Of course. Of cooooouuuuurrrrse.” I was a jerk inside yesterday. I was angry and grumbly and just not right. I don’t want to let him go. I don’t want this new life. I don’t want to be alone on Christmas and miss all of the fun. I don’t want this. I’m angry that there was no divine intervention to save me from this life.

Then, I am apologetic. I’m reminded of the story where God asks Job something like ‘where were you when I told the sea just how far it could come ashore, then no further?’ Powerful reminder right there.  Where was I? Who am I? Then I wept a little in my apology, and took back my angry thoughts. I resolved to keep moving forward, to accept my fate (not as a punishment, but just as what is…), and I sipped my Coca Light and stared at the ocean some more. I forgave the sun for not shining. I let go of the anger and the sadness and the need to assert myself somehow to prove I still existed. I just let it go. I laid on my recliner, watched the world go by, and tried to see things as they were, not as I thought they should be.

That was a lot for one day. Exhausting work, actually. I am learning to let it go.

I found this quote from Taylor Caldwell that soothed me, “I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.”

me n mase





  • Junior dos Reis
    Posted at 22:15h, 26 December Reply

    I simply love you! We`re all together 🙂 Merry Xmas sweet heart

    • its just me
      Posted at 15:41h, 30 December Reply

      We are all together, Junior!!! Miss you! Love you too. I need to come see your beautiful country!!!

  • Angie Simonetti
    Posted at 23:16h, 26 December Reply

    Thank you for writing this! I am divorced and my sons went back to visit with their father for Christmas. My family lives in another state. I have lived in this new state for 4 years but just have not connected with anyone yet. Probably because of my own problem with isolating now to not get hurt anymore. This is not the first Christmas I have spent alone but it was a difficult one. I see all the happy big families and friends gathering to celebrate. I see the arms of a husband around his wife sharing that she is the best gift he has ever received. I see fullness of joy in a full house. I don’t fit here. I am a single divorced woman in a small town. Everyone has grown up with everyone. Most of them have lived life without the horrors of abuse and look at me with a twisted eyebrow when I even mention a light version of it. I stop. They can’t handle it. If I dare to say how lonely I get sometimes, I have been told – you chose to divorce. Really? I wanted the dream. I don’t have the dream. For a different reason, your story says you have to let it go. I do as well. I have to let the dream go and accept right where I am. I am here, in this place, in this solitude for a purpose – a greater Purpose far beyond my comprehension. If I let the old dreams go – there will be room for new ones that God will birth in my heart – ones that I might wake up to one day and find they have become real. Thanks for the healing touch!

    • its just me
      Posted at 15:41h, 30 December Reply

      Angie, how beautiful and perfect you are right now. Your comment is an absolute gift to me, and to others who might also be struggling with something similar and cannot find the words. Thank you for sharing a piece of your story. It is hard to let go of our dreams and plans and accept ‘what is’ but I am learning it is the only way to live. You were not wrong to want the dream, you know that, I hope. “There will be new ones that God will birth in my heart…” so very true, so very true. xox

  • Sarah
    Posted at 00:27h, 27 December Reply

    I love that quote. Thinking of you and sending you love on your difficult journey. I am beginning to think that the pressure of one day being ‘special’ and ‘happy’ makes people feel more isolated than ever. Love you, thank you for sharing xxx

    • its just me
      Posted at 15:37h, 30 December Reply

      I came across that quote randomly, but it was as if it were sitting there just waiting to be seen… by me. :0) Of course it was. Thank you for reading. Thank you for introducing me to this special place where I feel safe and can actually hear my thoughts. xo

  • Nani
    Posted at 14:35h, 27 December Reply

    Thinking of you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart. Sending you love’s and looking forward to seeing you when you get back. I love all the pics of you and Mason. Love you and God keep you close sister.

    • its just me
      Posted at 15:35h, 30 December Reply

      See you soon, Nani. Thank you for reading and commenting. You are a source of encouragement, always.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 18:07h, 27 December Reply

    Tears & snot are streaming…a stranger to you yet such a part of my heart. I am you…a mom of just one son. Every mom loves their children right? No…not like we do. Your words hit me like a ton of bricks…your pictures make me sob. I wish I could do something for you like you have done for me. I make different decisions because of you. I mother different because of you. You & Mase are changing lives. As whole as I am with my boy here, a part of me aches as a mother for you, for the thoughts in my head that one day I could be you. It terrifies me. I want to hold your heart in my hand & tell you that I’m here….a complete stranger, yet I’m here for you. I want to tell you that YOU MATTER…and that if ever you need a shoulder, I will be there. You inspire me Holly. Your boy is so proud of his Momma…you are doing amazing things here.
    With much love… a friend of a friend,
    Michelle ❌⭕️

    • its just me
      Posted at 15:34h, 30 December Reply

      Oh Michelle, you worded it so well… No one could possibly love their children like single moms love their sons, right? :0) He was the joy of my life as I am sure your son is yours. Thank you for taking the time to encourage me by writing this message. “I mother differently because of you” – thank you for that huge compliment. It is why I write. It’s why I lay all of my pain and sadness out for all to see. It’s why I share the things I am learning on this horrific journey… so that someone, somewhere, might benefit.

  • Karen
    Posted at 13:49h, 29 December Reply

    Holly, your bravery is inspiring!!

Post A Comment