Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering Ellie at Christmas

We are coming up on our second Christmas without Ellie... Last year was brutal- Christmas Day was the two month anniversary of her passing. We didn't couldn't bear to have a "normal" Christmas without our daughter. It was her first Christmas and she was spending it in Heaven... We didn't put up our Christmas tree and I didn't get our any Christmas decorations. I didn't really care. We told our families that we would be going to Duluth for several days over the holidays and that we hoped they would come with- which they did. I did not want to wake up at our house Christmas morning without her- I didn't want to wake up at all Christmas morning at that point. Max does not care about things like presents or Santa, which only added to our desire and ease of skipping it all.
However, we do have a nephew, who at the time was four years old. He did deserve a good "normal" Christmas. So we played the part in Duluth. We went to see Christmas lights, Santa visited and we watched some Christmas movies. Since the rest of the world insisted on still celebrating Christmas last year, I feel like it was the best decision for us to run away. Even though we didn't go full out last year, we did do some things to remember our girl during her first Christmas...

Inspired by Natasha's post about remembering Aiden at Christmas and Fran's 12 Days of Christmas, I thought I would share what we did last year to celebrate and remember Ellie and what we are doing this year...
Ellie's Park: I feel like it's really important to decorate Ellie's spot for Christmas. I want people to know that there is a little girl resting there instead of at home with her family...

 Ellie's wreath: The cemetery sells wreaths each year and most people there have one during the holiday season. It's kind of amazing to see so many wreaths stretched out across the hills. But the wreaths are the traditional ones with flocked pine cones and red bows. Not exactly fitting for our silly little girl. So, the last two years, I cut off all the old stuff and added a pink sparkly bow and pretty ornaments. Last year my mom left a pink sequin stocking for her, so this year I attached it to her wreath. It definitely stands out...

 Ellie's Pink Tree: We found this last year and knew she had to have it. The purple garland, pink and purple heart ornaments and silver bow were the perfect touches. There are other trees at the cemetery- in fact a family put a real large tree out the last two years with ornaments and everything!- but Ellie has the only pink one!
 Ellie's Ornaments: Ellie's spot is nestled in between three huge pine trees. We use the closest one to hang wind chimes and ornaments on. Last year we hung purple and pink sparkly ones and an angel that is still there- this year we will hang some more but Dave needs to come out with me because a preggo shouldn't be standing on a step ladder in the snow!! Ellie's Ma (my mom) already put up a little Christmas Angel for her...

 Ellie's spot from afar... The snow yesterday was beautiful. As much as I hate that my daughter is buried there- I have to say that it's a beautiful and peaceful place, especially with the snow falling.

 Ellie's Snowman: Last year, the first snowfall was a big one. Perfect for snowmen- or Snow Girls. We brought our nephew, Evan, out to help us build Ellie her first snowman. I gotta say it was perfect. We found the perfect twig that looked just like her crooked smile! I remember when the snow started falling the day before, I cried because Ellie would have loved looking out the window and watching the world turn white. Making a snow girl for her helped take the sting out of it.

Ellie's Christmas Eve: When we made the decision to go to Duluth for Christmas, I was very worried that no one would be able to go out to the cemetery on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is a very important day for me and I was most sad about her not being there for that... My friend, Lo, bought a large purple candle for her spot and my Aunt and cousins went out Christmas Eve to light it so there was a light going all night long for her... They also brought her Santa cookies, Reindeer carrots and milk! They sent me a picture in Duluth and it was so comforting.

At home: Even though Ellie is not here anymore, she will always be a part of our family- of our holidays. She will always be included in our traditions and we will work to establish new ones to remember at these particularly hard time of year...

 Ellie's Stocking: My mom made this stocking for Ellie the Christmas before she was born. Last year I took it to Duluth with us and Santa put some gifts in it, just as he will do again this year. Ellie's stocking is already on our mantel with the rest of them for this year.

 Ellie's Ornaments: We always get Ellie an ornament for the tree when we get those for the rest of us... Last year I bought memorial ornaments for everyone in our family- they say "Every life leaves behind something beautiful." And I think it describes Ellie perfectly! Last year I made Christmas cards- I didn't want to, but we had these gorgeous pictures of our girl and I wanted to be able to send out a card with her on it. I also had these memorial ornaments made with her picture for people to hang on their tree.

 Ellie's Purple Tree: This was the only Christmas decoration we put up last year. It screams Ellie. It's up again this year. Max goes over to it quite often, gently touches and says "Sissy's tree." Max has a little green tree up in his room, and we will probably do it for every kid- Ellie deserves one too!


In her name: Early on, I discovered that distraction is the key to surviving anniversaries, birthdays and holidays. If I have something to keep my hands and mind busy, then it seems easier. Doing something that will make others happy and doing it in Ellie's name is something I find very comforting. Last year we used Ellie's memorial money to buy Toys for Tots and then spent some time at the warehouse sorting and counting them. This year, we have Ellie's Light and as a group we have already served dinner at the Ronald McDonald House. We also have several plans for collecting and purchasing toys, as well as spending more time at the warehouse. Lots of friends and family help out with these activities and it's wonderful to know that our little nine-month old has created such a wave of love and joy. It feels good to get out there and do this stuff for her.
 Toys for Tots Donation and Warehouse time from 2010

 Serving dinner at the Ronald McDonald House last weekend...

I think that everyone and every family has to find what works for them during the holidays. These are the things that work for us. These are the things that get me through this "merriest" time of the year...

14 comments:

crystal said...

Tiffany,
It is all beautiful, just like Ellie's life. Praying for you guys during the Holiday Season!!!

Darcey said...

What a wonderful way to remember your beautiful daughter during this time of year. Your loss has touched so many people. Sending thoughts and prayers your way during this holiday season.

Kelly said...

You're amazing Tiffany. :) Doing Ellie proud, no doubt! Big hugs during a hard time of the year. <3

Laura said...

You've done some amazing things to remember your beautiful daughter. She's really touched so many lives everywhere! All the way from RI, everytime I see a pink and purple sky, I think of Ellie.

Keep doing what you're doing, it's so important to keep her spirit alive!

Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers especially during this holiday season.

~Laura

Tiffany said...

what a lucky little girl to have such a wonderful, loving, generous family. i know she is proud. you guys are so amazing. doing so much good in honor and memory of that amazing little girl. you guys inspire me. and you are a real example of what the holiday seasons are all about. sending you lots of love my dear friend. and thinking of you during this time.

Caroline said...

So many amazing thing to do to honor your precious <3 Ellie <3

Love to you all this holiday season.

{{Hugs}}

Ashley said...

Love the pearl ornament, you'll have to email me where you got it :)

Love everything you are doing for Ellie, I am sure she is so proud of her parents! <3

B. Wilson said...

Thanks for sharing this. So many beautiful things to remember Ellie by.

Rose said...

Hi, I love reading your blog and you are such an inspiration to me.

This is our first Christmas without our little boy who died in October and I am really struggling with all my conflicting feelings around the holiday and how best to honor him. These are some great ideas and I'm glad to see the things you are doing. I also decorated his gravesite and took a picture of all the wreaths over the whole cemetery...and then thought I was crazy for thinking something so sad was beautiful. I'm glad I'm not alone!! Hang in there sweetie.

Robin said...

Ellie sure is loved! What beautiful decorations for your sweet girl. Praying for you always!

Lisa said...

Everything you have done shows just how much Ellie is loved. Everything you have done to honor her is simply beautiful. God certainly knew what He was doing when he chose you and Dave to be Ellie's parents.

Franchesca said...

Oh my goodness Tiffany, the milk and cookies Ellie left for Santa brought me to tears. Everything you have done for her at Christmas is just beautiful, she is so loved.

Sending big (((hugs)))

Amy von Oven said...

Your milk and cookies made me cry.....Im missing my little girl so much right now. You have done an amazing job to keep her alive!!!!!

Natasha said...

I absolutely LOVE everything you guys have done for Ellie!!! My favorite is the snowman with the flower buttons! I love that Ellie and Aiden both have the same ornament ♥

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