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Christmas spirits

I was once haunted by placemats.

The day after Christmas 2004, I went to Target to scoop up Christmas junk at 50% off. I won’t shop on Black Friday, but I embrace Clearance Day. I buy all my cards, wrapping paper, knick knacks, and other useless things like snowman soap pumps, all in the name of next Christmas.

That year, I found adorable corduroy gingerbread man placemats. They came in pairs. At the time I had five kids and a secret. Several weeks earlier, I found out I was pregnant for the sixth time but nobody knew except for my husband and me. I delighted in putting three packages in my cart, thinking of the six children I’d have during Christmas 2005. Perfect!

February 2005 came. I miscarried at 12 weeks and was absolutely devastated. I miscarried again in July.

On December 1, 2005, my Grandma Mary died suddenly. The year was doling out kicks in the teeth quite liberally, and it wasn’t through yet.

Sometime after we returned home from my grandma’s funeral, I decided to pull out the Christmas box to decorate a little, especially for the kids who were still really excited for the holiday. Inside, mingling with ornaments and snowglobes, were the gingerbread men placemats. Count of six.

I still remember the curse words that sprang from my mouth when I saw them. It wasn’t the lowest point of my life, but it was close.

A few days later, my amazing and dear Grandma Alice suffered a stroke at home by herself. She spent five hours crawling from her kitchen to her bedroom to call 911. She died a week and a half later on December 23, 2005.

My. God. Bleak. Muddling.

I didn’t know that within days, Beatrix would be joining us in the form of Superembryo, living and thriving and growing into a miracle baby. She was born in September. No pressure on her, but she brought about tremendous healing and a restoration of smiles to everyone. I imagined my two lovely grandmothers in Heaven and how much they would have loved her. It wasn’t a bitter, regretful emotion any more. It was a thank you to them for being amazing, influential women in my life and a thank you to God for sending our little girl.

I left the placemats in their packages during Christmas 2006, but last year I took them out and displayed them. Yesterday, on the anniversary of my Grandma Mary’s death, the kids found them in the box I had my husband drag up from the basement.


Six corduroy men, rick-rack wrists and ankles, felt scarved and buttoned, smiling.

Now I can smile back.

10 comments to Christmas spirits

  • And number 7 on the way! He’ll have to share.

    2006 was that year for me. Husband and I have lost 3 grandparents and a parent since we got married 5 1/2 years ago. I have been given great grace to look back and see blessings from that horrible year, not in the form of anything tangible (like the cute gingerbread men), but blessings nonetheless.

    Thanks for sharing. It is a good reminder to me that Christmas can be the hardest time of year for many people.

    Minnesotamom’s last blog post..Deck the Halls Meme

  • Those are the cutest placemats ever. I am so thankful for your Beatrix and I hope this Christmas is the best ever, too!


    Adventures In Babywearing’s last blog post..The Magic…

  • oh, thank you for sharing this story… I am glad to read these little placemats make you smile again, b/c they sure made me smile.

    Courtney’s last blog post..philly moms post…

  • edj

    Love those placemats! But you need at least one more now 😉
    2005 was a horrible year for us too! I won’t go into details, but I remember spending the last 2 weeks of the year wondering what else would happen. I was so relieved on Jan 1, 2006, even though I knew this was irrational.

    edj’s last blog post..If you blog about your Moroccan Thanksgiving…

  • NTE

    Thank you for sharing this: I’m having this sort of year, this year, and even though I know I’ll eventually be able to smile back, it’s nice to have the reminders.

    NTE’s last blog post..Today I gave myself a time out

  • this was my 2007, devastating miscarriage, even more devastating loss of much loved mother-grandmother…but now, I wouldn’t change a thing and I am thankful for how it softened me and made me more compassionate to others that are hurting….

    love the gingerbread placemats…tooo cute!

    smiling again with you…


  • this made me smile, too.

    and yay for the waterbaby! go, mama, go!

    Megan@SortaCrunchy’s last blog post..On my heart today

  • Those are adorable placemats. I remember you speaking of them before, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a picture. I’m glad you’re not haunted anymore.

    I’ll keep an eye out for a matching one for #7…

    Jenni’s last blog post..Re-runs

  • Jessica

    I found out I was pregnant the day before I found out my dad had cancer. The news of a new baby softened the blow of cancer. I found out I lost the baby while my dad was still half a country away recovering from surgery. Nothing to soften that blow but an unwavering faith in God. 5 weeks post-miscarriage, I am still running across things I purchased or drug out of storage in anticipation of the baby. I, too, swear, scream, or throw the reminders across the room! Thank you for the reminder that the joy returns!

  • I am so glad you can smile about those placemats now for they are lovely.

    Your post is beautiful and raw and needed to help remind us all of the pain some carry so very deeply during this season.

    Anna’s last blog post..freebie friday: christmas music

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