Creating Christmas in my house was hard the first two years. Emotionally draining. I did it with a heavy heart. Smiles hiding the tears that bubbled up to the surface and spilled too often.
The hardest part for me? Cooking! And I love to cook. But while my mom opened her home to many over the holidays, the kitchen was our space. A place where the two of us fell into a rhythm creating the familiar dishes that filled our dining room table year after year and experimenting with one or two new additions to keep things fresh.
The last few years I have found myself in the kitchen alone. Cooking the dishes I no longer need a recipe for because they are ingrained in my head and heart. Those first two years I was consumed with the loneliness. Hated the solitude. Resented every moment I spent in the kitchen.
This year there was a shift. Don't get me wrong - I still missed my mom every minute. I still wished she was standing across the kitchen from me slicing onions. But I also found peace in the routine. Comfort in creating the dishes my mom served year after year. A sense of continuity bringing them forward into the new Christmas we have begun to create.
I hope one day I'll be able to face the ghosts of Christmas in NJ. But for now, I'm going to enjoy the the peace I am finding in the Christmas Matt and I have created and claim a small victory.