And it's not as hard as it was last year, fresh from the loss of the twins. And it's not as hard as it was the two years before that (time has given me distance and an effective arsenal of coping mechanisms).
But still, amidst the happy bustling and the busyness, there's a sadness that I suppose might always be there.
Because there's no little boy to rush down the stairs on Christmas morning, tousle-haired, bleary-eyed and all excited to open his stocking and see what treasures Santa has left him under the tree.
We have quiet, sweet Christmas mornings, My Beloved and I. Our cozy time together, just the two of us, is one of the things I treasure most about Christmas. Next to unbridled chocolate consumption, of course.
But I don't think either of us forget for one second that there were supposed to be three of us.
That there should be three of us.
Sometimes I look at the tree for Thomas. I try to see it through his eyes. The twinkle of the lights, the ornaments new and old, the shiny bows on the presents beneath. I imagine his wonder. The questions he'd ask. The stories we'd tell. The glow of the lights bathing his sweet little face in red and green as he took in every sight and every word.
My imaginary Christmas.
The real one isn't so bad. Truly. I have love and family and friends all around me. And I am happy. For real.
But my heart also longs for the imaginary Christmas it will never have. And the boy.
The three of us.