The holiday I dreaded is over and I feel sadder than I have in weeks. Today it hit me that I didn't only need to get through this Christmas without Jimmy. This is forever. I need to get through all my remaining Christmases without him.
I tried to make it easier by having no tree or decorations in my house. It kinda sorta worked in a way. This is the first year I don't have to concern myself with poinsettias that refuse to die until President's week. Jimmy couldn't bear to discard a living thing so by the end of January I'd begin to sneak them out in a hefty bag along with old newspapers and chicken bones. They had to go. Red leaves don't belong in a house full of earth tones.
Two weeks before Christmas the cemetery people mailed me an ornament in the shape of a wreath and in the center in gold it read James Scibelli 1950-2006. Being treeless I hung it over a framed picture of Jimmy. It felt right, respectful, my only decoration and easy to put away.
It's a strange feeling to be done with Christmas as soon as Christmas is over. I even left Christmas Day leftovers at Jackie's house although there wasn't much to pack up. Jimmy's brothers vacuumed up the lasagna and the beef tenderloin and the shrimp in a valiant effort to make up for the portions Jimmy would have scuffed down.
We all claimed we forgot our cameras on Christmas Eve. The truth is we went out to dinner with our heads down because no self respecting Italian family dines out on the 24th. Even Skylar covered. When the waitress said "Merry Christmas" she responded, "And, Happy Hanukkah."
As a Jew, I'd go anywhere for a meal, but since becoming a Scibelli 30 something years ago I've been inundated to slave over a stove and then set the table carefully with the good china reserved for the four main events - Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and Easter.
In between the unusual quiet and the palatable sadness Skylar would squeal for joy to remind us that all this was new to her. Yesterday was the first of her Christmas memories and we struggled to stay in the moment to make them with her. Next year will be easier. And, next year I'll put up a tree.