Managing love and loss

It was nice to read that the Wednesday chat went on just fine without me. Thank you for being good to Glenn. He handled himself well, yes? I figured the holiday letters would start rolling in about now. This one’s timely.
Meredith, Like you, who has just lost her aunt -- and my condolences to you -- I lost my Mom recently. This will be my first Christmas without her and it is very hard. I do not feel like celebrating this year. Thanksgiving was hard enough but with so many Christmas memories, it will be hard for my Dad and I to get through this. Hearing Christmas music since mid November has not helped. My father and I have decided not to celebrate this year. I am writing to you because I have been dating a wonderful woman for one year. We have had our ups and downs, but have worked through them and dealt with what we needed to honestly and in a mature manner. I see a future with her and want things to work between us. My problem is this: how do I celebrate -- or do I celebrate -- Christmas with her when I am having a hard time doing this? I told her that I am not into Christmas this year, but I am second guessing myself for saying that. I would appreciate any constructive help you and your readers can give. Thank you.

– Whatnow, Boston

W, let me tell you what my late Aunt Ruth would say if she read this letter. She’d tell you that you can’t skip Christmas even though your heart feels two sizes too small. And then she’d tell you to order her up some chicken lo mein. I know you want to avoid the pain, but ignoring Christmas might feel worse than celebrating it. You don’t have to do anything special. You don’t have to trim trees or hang stockings or smile while roasting chestnuts. You’re allowed to watch movies. You can order Chinese food and cry all day. All you have to do is be around the people you love. If this woman is someone you love, have her close by. You can tell her that you’re not into Christmas this year -- but it would be better to tell her the truth, which is that you’re petrified of Christmas this year. Don’t make any decisions about cancelling the holiday just yet. Simply tell her that you need to play it by ear -- but that you’d like her company either way, even if this becomes a non-holiday. As long as you keep her in your plans, I think she’ll understand. If you want her to stick around, let her help you make some new traditions. And ... so sorry for your loss. Readers? Thoughts? Is this letter writer allowed to skip the holiday? How can he mourn without making her feel neglected during the most wonderful time of the year? Thoughts here.

– Meredith