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Here it comes again -- the fourth one for me, and it just doesn't get any better.  I think mostly it's the why-can't-you-just-move-on look I get when I try to explain why I can't face another family get-together.  How can I get them to understand how painful it is to be around all the couples in my family?  Of course I'm happy for them, that they have the loves of their lives beside them at the "happiest time of year;" but it's another painful reminder that my sweet husband is no longer beside me; that I arrive alone at the family gathering and I leave alone.  Watching a sister open a gift from her husband, be thrilled and throw her arms around him and kiss him...

And then there's the guilt:  How can I be so self-absorbed?  Why can't I just be happy for them all and ignore the ache in my heart?  But those are two separate things!  I AM happy for them, but that ache grows more acute each year.  And they have no idea that I'm drawing on all the strength I can muster to keep from welling up with tears when that certain song is played, or when I see the ornament on their tree that Scott and I gave them, or when his favorite dish is passed at table.

Yesterday my sister said, "You're coming to our house for Christmas, right?"  She named off all the family couples who'll be there...sigh.  I know they are trying to be kind and inclusive; but how do you explain that there's just no way to be "included" in a group to which I so clearly don't belong? Where can I go to get away from all the togetherness that I can no longer share and that I miss SO much?  I just want to be allowed to stay at home with my pups and remember 42 beautiful Christmases.

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To all of you who have responded when I reached out, I thank you so much.  Reading the comments of people who understand -- who "get it" -- has buoyed me immensely.  Today I tell my sister that I'll be staying home on Christmas.  Because you've given me such great advice and wonderful suggestions, I have the strength to say, "This is what I need.  I'm not asking you to understand, because you can't and I hope you never have to.  I'm only asking that you accept graciously." 

Tess, I agree 100%!  I don't do Facebook because it's become the online version of the dreaded Christmas Newsletter full of "Look where I've been!"  "Look what I'm doing!"  My sister (hmm...is there a Freudian connection here?) put me on Facebook immediately after my husband passed, but after the first day or two I never looked at it again because of all the cute couples pictures and stories.  Sending "Christmas greetings" from exotic places....um, no.

LP, your common sense is so refreshing!  I'm always shocked when someone makes a remark about feeling sorry for myself.  Wow!  Really?  You're right; we do have the right to be sad.  It is a part of life!  And Tess, you're right: some days we just need time alone with our emotions.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love to you all!

So did you end up getting Chinese food for Christmas? I think it's great that you decided what you wanted to do for that day. We have a right to feel and do. 

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