For many people, Christmas 2016 is the first year they'll be celebrating the holidays without a certain loved one. The first one is always the hardest. For some, it is the only one they let themselves cry at. For others, they cry every year at this time.
Holidays will always be hard without your loved ones. If you haven't lost anyone, consider yourself very lucky and blessed.
Christmas is fast approaching and yet, it doesn't feel like it. The usual jolly and festive feeling you get every year is suddenly gone and it's as if it will never be the same. You're right; it won't. It will never be the same without them.
Every year I gather at my nana's house for Christmas Eve with my cousins, aunts and uncles, and close family to exchange gifts and feast. When I lost my best friend and cousin, I was eleven. I didn't understand why I wasn't happy for Christmas to come. "I should be! Santa is coming!"
It wasn't the same without him. That year, my cousin's family didn't attend Christmas Eve. I still didn't understand the feeling in my chest. My aunt sent a letter with all her love, explaining why they were not there with us to celebrate.
You grieve at a memorials and funerals, and as I learned that day, you grieve during every holiday after you lose them. Nearly ten years after Matthew passed I still ache when I think about him not being there to braid my doll's hair and tell me stories and jokes.
Losing a loved one gives you a new feeling to add to this time of the year: emptiness.
It will never go away, that feeling. Yes, the first one is the hardest. The pain will be the highest it will ever be, but with the years to follow it only dulls.
Leave them a seat. They will be there with you as you laugh and be merry with your family, wearing a smile, too.