Have Yourself A What?


Barb's tree, Jack decorating tree, Barb with Jack and Gracie in front of tree
Barb, Gracie, Jack and the tree

Alas December is flying by.

Part of me loves this. I am not a fan of this month. There are few months, actually that I am a fan of but December can hit hard. The cold, dark reality of life in New England along with the intense pressure to be happy.

I will take a serving of January please!

December starts with the Concord Dance Academy Holiday Spectacular. Founded in 2006, there has been a Banzhoff (or two) in every show. A fundraiser for both the local theater and our homeless community, it is the official kick off of the holiday season for many families.

We used to love it.

After Molly died this became a tricky weekend for us. We have helped it along by raffling a basket full of things Molly liked (and now Rachel and Mrs. Peterson) in an effort to keep their memory alive and support dancers at CDA.

It is hard to let this basket go.

We are always hoping someone who loved Molly will win it. This year it went to a family who had never heard of Molly. While we struggled greatly at first, we (the Hungers, the Petersons, and us) realize that there is beauty and purpose in all that happens.

This year was a corner turner for us.

In coping with the holidays, we have spent six of the seven since Molly died in Florida. Getting out of here was paramount in our ability to survive the holidays. We stayed home in 2020, (thank you Covid) and used the Molly Tree as our holiday representation. I was pregnant with Jack and Gracie spent the bulk of Christmas Eve in the ER.

Yeah, fun times.

We were set to travel this year, but our initial three-week plan began to shrink. Health issues, work commitments, kitchen remodels, money, you name it. Our long break from the cold dark winter had shrunk to just over a week. We reluctantly decided to stay home.

Enter Jack Banzhoff.

He is big enough now to notice things. You know, holiday things, behavior patterns, songs, lights, music, SANTA! One we made the decision to stay put it became apparent that we would need a tree. I stayed home and cleaned, moved furniture, and cried. I raged actually. There are times I just have to let it out. It isn’t just Molly being gone. It is also public pressure.

Everyone will say “it’s about time”.

Maybe not on those exact words, but the sentiment will be there.

“The holidays are supposed to be happy”.

 “Molly would want this”.

“Jack deserves this”.

“I am so glad you’re able to finally do this”.

I know, I know. All of these statements are true. They are all valid. They are all correct. But the reality of a griever is that nothing is as it seems ever again. These accolades hurt. They sit funny. They make me feel bad. Like I am forgetting about Molly.

Today the picket fence between my feet is wicked tall.

I will say, the small tree, placed in a slightly different spot, with all new decorations, is a warm and comforting piece of the “kitchadinaliving” room. Jack loves it. It has opened up dialog around how to move along in the holiday celebrating aspect of our lives. What other little pieces of our past are we willing and/or able to invite back in. I have some ideas but I am not ready to commit.

Gracie posted on Facebook about our experience. It was articulate and gentle. She really nailed it. The response has been lovely, and full of the above-mentioned types of remarks. As hard as all of this is, remarks that sting a little are way better than silence.

 So, keep them coming.

And have yourself a merry little what-ever you want.

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