We have a tradition in my family. Every year we get together and decorate Christmas cookies. My mom makes the dough and cuts out every shape of cookie imaginable. She also makes homemade butter cream frosting and my sisters and I color the frosting and put it in piping bags with different icing tips. Then my aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, nieces, nephews, and friends get together and spend hours, I mean hours, decorating cookies. We visit and create and genuinely enjoy ourselves. It has been one of my favorite holiday traditions for as long as I can remember. I look forward to it every year, even as an adult, and I look forward to making it a tradition with my own children someday.
This year was different for me though. When I was pregnant with Aubrey and Ellie I told my husband that I didn't think cookie decorating would be possible for me this year. That I just didn't think I would find time to decorate cookies with two newborns to nurse and an almost three year old running around. This year I would just have to miss out. I was not disappointed, it was just the reality of having twins so close to Christmas. There was always next year. I simply accepted that I would not be able to participate this year.
A few months after Aubrey and Ellie died I told my husband that I still was not going to decorate cookies. Even though I love it and now had the time, I could not bring myself to do it. It seemed like a poor consolation under the circumstances. My ability to participate would be a symbol of their absence instead of a celebration. I just didn't feel right about it. I could not imagine participating.
As the day approached I became very emotional. I was dreading cookie decorating day. I told myself that it was ok to help, to mix the frosting colors, to fill the bags, to help my son decorate his first cookies, but that is as far as I would take it. I would not decorate. I would not dishonor my girls.
But something happened.
While I helped my son frost and sprinkle his cookies the dread in my heart disappeared and was replaced by peace. I wanted to decorate cookies for my girls. I no longer felt that enjoying myself would dishonor them. I wanted to do it for them, and I guess in a way, for myself too. So I sat down and spent hours thinking of my girls while I frosted cookie after cookie. When my sister walked in and saw me she said, "So you are decorating cookies!" As if to show her approval. It was ok for me to join in after all.
That night I felt sad. I didn't regret decorating cookies, but I did miss my girls. I never thought that one day I would sit down to participate in one of my favorite holiday traditions in memory of my babies in heaven. I am constantly reminded that nothing was left untouched by Aubrey and Ellie's death. And nothing ever will be. Their death is a part of my life. But I promised them I would not let their death ruin me, that I would do my best to find healing so that they could be proud of me. Now I have a new tradition. From now on I will sit down and decorate cookies with my children on earth and for my children in heaven. And that will just have to be how I think of it. Cookie decorating will never be the same. But then again, nothing will be.