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holiday hope

2017 December 9
by Becky

I’ve been silent out here for a while, only posting quick and harmless little bits here and there for the last six moths or so. We’ve been busy with getting settled in our new city and house and writing here has felt like a burden that didn’t really matter much. It felt like I’d be dishonest if I posted pictures of me painting or cooking or exploring because those seem so perfect and easy when in reality this move has taken more adjustment time than I’d ever anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, we love our new setup, but we miss the old one too. We miss our friends and hangouts and the familiar feel of St. Louis. Getting settled, really feeling at home, takes time. But we’re getting there.

Then, on November 17th, Stu’s dad, Greg, passed away very unexpectedly. Just a few days shy of his 60th birthday. We had no idea how weak his body had become after years of treating vasculitis, an inflammatory disease we never considered would result in his death. And since then, or really since the emergency open heart surgery he had just ten days before his death, stories about our life and house and adventures seem so unimportant. So disconnected from what we’re really feeling. As if there’s no way they can matter when something so tragic has hit our family.


When people ask how we’re doing, I usually say “We are ok. It comes in waves.” For me, those waves crest when it’s quiet in the house, such as nap time. Or at night after Stu heads to bed. The times I typically use to get a hundred things done without Finn on my heels. But if I’m not quick to turn on some up-beat music or if I sit down a little two long to eat lunch, the emotions overflow. I’m overcome by the loss of a wonderful father-in-law, loving spouse, and caring father. It still seems impossible  to believe he’s gone.

After the funeral in Nebraska, we arrived home to a neighborhood in the midst of celebration. The annual Scottish Walk parade ended just hours before we landed, the houses were being decorated, the boat parade about to begin, and throngs of people were walking the streets of Old Town to soak up it’s historic holiday cuteness. We tried to join in, walking to the Torpedo Factory to peek at Santa, not braving the looooooong line of strollers containing tiny people waiting for their turn with him. We woke up Sunday morning, walked to Misha’s for coffee and bagels, then braved losing our parking spot for a trip to our storage unit to retrieve our holiday decorations. Back at the house we worked diligently for hours, Stu on the outside lights, me and the kids on the tree and garlands inside…like it was our mission to get into the spirit of the season. Our decoration collection, designed to perfectly fit our St. Louis house, is trickier in this space, but we’re making it work, it’s looking good. I also realized, in an unwarranted panic, that we had no plans to see Santa, had barely talked about the guy. Our three year old is being slightly neglected in true second-child style. But we’ll fix it. This weekend. Finn can’t wait to ask St. Nick for a Power Rangers sword and costume.

Luckily, Thanksgiving was saved by our friends the Cooks. Six months ago, when we initially floated the possibility of moving back to DC, the Cooks said they were coming for Thanksgiving. It was a prize we’d had in our eyes since their declaration. Turns out, they not only made our holiday wonderful, their presence was just the support we needed while coping with our family’s loss. We had five days to show off the sights of the city, talk over delicious food, and watch our kids play together again. There was also a little girly shopping and spa time of course. It was busy and relaxing and exactly how we wanted to spend the holiday.


So I’m on a mission to seek out all the things that make me smile…cheesy holiday music, the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, my friend Kristin telling an incredible story about her daughter meeting Leslie Odom Jr., the giant Christmas tree in front of the Capitol Building, baking five kinds of cookies, hearing my friend Kate share the details of her new job, extra morning snuggles with the boys. And maybe a little more writing out here will help too. I miss it. This tiny corner of the over-saturated internet is still a place I can call mine.

Thank you for all the texts, cards, and calls of sympathy, your words are very much appreciated. And thank you for the holiday cards! They are one of my favorite things about this time of year, each day the mail brings more of our favorite smiling faces. We were somehow ahead of the game this year and got card together early. I had my heart set on a picture in the Lee Street Tunnel, one of our favorite neighborhood spots. Nailed it.


Our holiday spirit is catching up. Rudolph has been watched. The Christmas books are in heavy bedtime rotation. My parents and brother arrive in less than two weeks. Even sooner the kids will be out of school. No one in this house will be sad to see 2017 end, nonetheless, we have a lot to be thankful for. And while I can’t promise Christmas perfection, I can promise our holiday will be joyful.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Linda Johnson permalink
    December 10, 2017

    Beautiful post! Enjoy your Christmas with your parents and brother.

    I had to look twice to see which one of the boys Greg was holding. I thought it was Finn at first, then realized it was Ethan. They looked so much alike at that age.

    Happy Holidays

  2. December 10, 2017

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father-in-law. Losing a family member near the holiday season is a difficult thing to navigate. Wishing you joy and peace for Christmas, even as you miss one who should be celebrating with you.
    Brooke recently posted..An Imperfect BirthdayMy Profile

  3. Breezy permalink
    December 10, 2017

    (((HUGS))) Love you!

  4. December 22, 2017

    Becky and Stu,

    I’m terribly sorry for your loss, particularly at this time of the year. Stu’s dad is so handsome and looks so healthy and joyful in that photo. It breaks my heart. I’ve been behind on reading blogs, but last night I had some quiet time alone and I was reflecting on a Longest Night service I attended years ago. Last night was again the longest night, and so I was thinking of everyone dealing with loss and pain and disappointment in this season where we are expected (and hoping) to be joyful and cheery. It’s okay to acknowledge that these days can sit differently with us. I’ve been there, and am still there to some degree. The holidays highlight the missing, for sure.

    We miss you around here. We are hopeful that our spring break plans in DC materialize. We’ll start planning in January, so I’ll be in touch.

    I hope the coming days are gentle on you all. Please extend our sympathy to Stu and his family. We are so very sorry you are missing someone so dear and special to you and your boys.

    Kristin recently letter 2017My Profile

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