Five and a Half Years Old

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

If I started to write about the magic of Christmas…if I wrote about the lump in my throat that I got at Christmas Eve service…if I wrote about how the week leading up to Christmas by far outshines Christmas Day to me each and every year because of the un-containable amounts of love that flow through my home…I likely wouldn’t stop writing. And I likely wouldn’t stop crying.

I had wonderful Christmas memories as a child. Family. Friends. Food. Santa treasures. Love. I always wanted Katie to have the same and we started her young. I (in the past) have decorated every room in our house. I’d put a tree in every room of our home if my husband would let me, and I’ve been (mostly) successful. It takes me days to decorate and Kate always loved to help.

I wanted to share a little series about our family traditions here with you…some just to share and some just so I have a place with it all written down. Every year, I had hoped to add a new tradition to our repertoire, especially after last Christmas when she was healthy again. Little did I know.

The Rhoades family Christmas always began on December 5th. You see….today is Kate’s half birthday and we celebrate those in our house. We start by baking and decorating half a cake. (A tradition I learned from a friend from 7th grade.) After half-birthday cake, we decorated our tree. We started with the special ornaments first and placed them on the best, most visible part of the tree. We started years ago with white lights (mommy’s favorite) but Daddy & Kate wanted color, so color they did have. For years, she wasn’t allowed to have a real tree because of her immune system, so Daddy went out in a snow storm 3 years ago and bought me 3 trees to pick from. Last year on her half birthday & tree decorating day, Katie lost her very first tooth. It’s always been a special day.

Tonight will be different. Tonight we won’t have family over to join us. There won’t be any family dinner or A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV. We might still have cake, and there will be a tree only…but tonight’s decorating will be different. It will be a KATEmas tree and it will be a collection of her beloved things. Ornaments, belongings and treasures that represent Kate’s life and joys. It will be a celebration of her and a remembrance of her that will stay up through the holiday.

I cannot fathom Christmas this year. I haven’t even let myself try. But it is my hope that the glow of the lights and the treasures my girl left behind will soften my heart, allow me some peace and rejoice in the knowing that she is near…and she is waiting for me in Heaven. A promise I cling to for dear life.

Happy half birthday KitKat. Today you would be five and a half years old. I miss you. I love you. Best friends forever. I promise.

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