Thursday, December 03, 2009

Remembering at Christmas

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.

If you are missing someone you love this Christmas, someone of ANY age who is spending Christmas with Jesus this year, join us on this very special Walking With You. We are sharing our Christmas memories and the ways that we remember our loved ones who have gone home to Heaven at Christmas time.

Last Christmas is one I will always remember. We received Carleigh's fatal diagnosis on December 15 and then left for Hawaii on December 19, a trip that we had been planning for 3 years. The days before we left were tough and I cried a lot, but I resolved to make the most out of our trip and enjoy it. And that's what I did. We were able to spend a wonderful week in paradise with our daughter. I came back from the trip feeling renewed and ready to face the road that was ahead of us.

This Christmas is our first without her. I'm not sure what to expect or how I will react emotionally. Right now I am doing really well. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and, like previous years, I am looking forward to it. We've got our decorations up and plan to put some lights up outside too.

The one thing I haven't done inside yet is put up our small Christmas tree to put ornaments on for our children in Heaven. Right now I have one ornament each for Jordan and Carleigh. Jordan's ornament (on the right below) is a little angel we picked out from their angel tree on our 1st visit to the National Memorial for the Unborn in October 2008. We first hung it on our tree last Christmas.

Carleigh's ornament (on the left above) is one that was given to me by my coworker, Sharon, this year for Carleigh. It is a Hallmark ornament that I can put a picture of her in. On the front of the ornament it says 'Remembered with love' and on the back it says 'The true testament of a life well-lived is the love we leave behind.' I love that it has stars all over it because stars remind me of my own little shining star, my Carleigh.

Kristin @ Once A Mother had a giveaway for a very cute baby angel ornament. I didn't win the giveaway but Kristin was able to get the contact info for the lady who makes them and I have ordered 2 of them-a pink one for Carleigh and a red one for Jordan.

On our main Christmas tree there hangs a little bare butt angel. This ornament is one that has been in our family. My mom gave me sister and me each one when we married to hang on our trees. It reminds me of my own little angels and it is an ornament that will stay on the main tree instead of going on the small angel tree.

I would like to get some Christmas decorations to take out to Carleigh's grave to replace her fall flowers and pumpkin. I hope that I can find some that I like. The plan is to do that this weekend.

Every Christmas since Anthony and I have been married I write a Christmas letter and send it out to our family and friends, along with a picture of our family. I haven't started our letter yet but I plan to do that soon. As for the picture, this year there is no family picture. We are not doing one. Instead, I am sending out a postcard of Carleigh created by Birni @ All The Little Ponies. She did such a great job and I can't wait to send it out to everyone. Now all of our loved ones will be able to have something special to remember Carleigh.

This Christmas season we will be donating to several causes for our babies. For Carleigh, we will be making a contribution to the Neural Tube Defect Research Fund at Duke. We participated in Duke's study on anencephaly and other NTDs. We still get letters in the mail from people who have sent in contributions in memory of Carleigh. That means so much! For Jordan, we will be making a donation to our local women's center. This center is where I received my counseling and their annual banquet is where I gave my testimony and read my poem. The center has a very special place in my heart. In honor of both of our children, we will be making donations to Sufficient Grace Ministries and The Greatest Blessing.

I really wish that we could be in Hawaii again this year for Christmas. It would mean a lot to be in the same place we celebrated Christmas when Carleigh was still alive, to walk on the same beaches and visit the same places. No matter where I am I will remember my babies fondly and thank God for each of them and for the baby that was born in a manger so many years ago.


Trisha Larson said...

I absolutely love what you are doing to honor your children. I think that it's great that you make donations in their name and give them their own tree. I admire you greatly.

I'm still struggling with the right thing to do to honor Nate. It's a fine line to remember him and yet still remain joyful for my other kids. I tend to do one thing or the other. I hope that one day I can get to the place that my heart doesn't get ripped out of my chest when I think of him.

PS - I wish that I was in Hawaii for Christmas too!!!

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

Holly, I can totallly understand the wanting to be where you were with Carleigh last year (in Hawaii) for Christmas. I'm sorry you can't make that happen.

You're doing some beautiful things to honor your children. Thanks for sharing with us. (Those ornaments are gorgeous).

Henninger Family said...

If you go to Hawaii will you take me with you? I love the ornaments you have for your girls - they are so special. I especially love the one your mom gave you - I love family ornaments.

What a great idea with the donations - John and I tossed that idea around, but I love all that you're doing!

Thank you for always sharing your story.

Franchesca Cox said...

Holly, those ornaments are beautiful, and Carleigh's is just perfect! I think it is sweet what you are doing in your childrens' names this Christmas season. That gives me some ideas. I have been wondering what to do, I want to do something different.

Beautiful post.

Jennifer Ross said...

I like what your doing in honor of your children too. It's a great idea. My post was kind of sad....ok, it was really sad. I just don't feel all happy right now, so I just cannot pretend to be. I do for the "world," but when I'm on my blog I like to be as truthful as possible. It's nice to have you all as friends. It's very special to me.


Mom Putnam said...

I am getting my tree tomorrow for my memorials and cant wait to get it up. Like you, my dear daughter, I wish we were in Hawaii every Christmas. To me it is the second paradise, with Heaven being the first and their is nothing like it to be there and feel it. Guess I need to play Hawaiian music and feel it this year. Dear Lord, Help us to remember the reason for the season this year and to help our hearts heal, to move with gentleness through the journey. Keep Jordan and Carleigh close so they can hear us whisper our "I Love You" to them and know how much we miss them. Thank you for taking such good care of our babies for us. Amen

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

You are just beautiful...and you bless me in so many ways. Do you know that? Not just me...but so many people. I am with Trisha...Christmas in Hawaii sounds pretty good! =)

I love the ornaments you shared to remember sweet Carleigh and Baby Jordan. They are precious! The bare bottom angel made me smile! You always honor the lives of your children in such special ways...and your heart is so generous. God's love and compassion just shines through you, Holly. And, I am grateful to call your friend.

May God continue to comfort and carry you, covering you with His grace, and filling you with His peace this Christmas and in the coming year...

Remembering Carleigh and Jordan with you...

Much Love,

Anonymous said...

what a lovely way to remember and honor you babies. and the ornaments are very pretty

♥ Ali ♥ said...

I love the Angel tree Idea. I put up my christmas tree last night and tonight, and I noticed..when it was finished; most of the ortaments are Jaydens or in memory of him. I have grandsons 1st christmas ( a litrle blonde boy wearing a crown ) and then a photoframe of Babys 1st Christmas with Jayden and the fireman Santa; both from 2007. since he died the 5th of December 2008, I also have an ortament my aunt had already purchased a hallamark collection little dog with blocks saying babys second christmas. then I have 11 other little star ortaments my mom bought me before Thanksgiving. Its fake because we couldn't afford a real one this year, but I got blue lights (which remind me of Jayden of course) so I was totally excited about the lights. But really; I am astonished that my whole tree seems to be tribute to my son. And it was all on accident! :)

You tree is beautfiul, and it is so awesome you are making the contributions you in memory of your children; how wonderful! You are such an amazing, strong woman Holly.

croleyc69 said...

What a wonderful post and what great things to do to honor your children.
I wish to you could be Hawaii for Christmas again. I'm glad to hear you are doing well with Christmas so far. Praying for you so much.
The ornaments are so beautiful.
Thanx for sharing

Elizabeth said...

You are a wonderful momma! *hugs*

Rebekah said...

I'm sure last year was difficult getting the news, but I'm glad you also have some wonderful memories with her. I wish you could return this year to make your first Christmas without her a little easier. I think the ornaments are beautiful and it's wonderful what you have done in Carleigh's and Jordan's names.
I hope you have peace & comfort this Christmas!

Debbie said...

What a heart of love you have! In the midst of your pain and loss of Carleigh you reach out to others. You honor your daughter by helping others.

May the Lord bless you and comfort you during this first Christmas without Carleigh. And I pray that knowing Carleigh is with Jesus will provide comfort.



Jess said...

So many special ways to honor your angels this year, Carleigh. I think it's so neat you will be sending out a special postcard in memory of Carleigh this year. We skipped the family photo this year too, but haven't decided yet if we will be sending out a letter. It feels like a lot to take on right now. I love your bare butt ornament! So cute. I really like your idea of the special tree for Jordan and Carleigh. We are doing a small tree for Eliana this year too. I hope you feel so much comfort and peace from God as you remember his Son, and your children in heaven this Christmas!

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