Remembering Morgan Harrington
Gil Harrington’s Thoughts on December 11, 2012
Our path through the holidays: closed Christmas boxes
We realized soon after Morgan’s murder that holidays would be tricky ground to navigate for our shrunken/triangulated family. Old traditions had to be jettisoned, too painful, and new traditions must be developed.
Our new Christmas traditions involve many firmly closed Christmas boxes. Some of those
boxes are memory boxes that we force the lid on to prevent self-injury. Like: I won’t think about the elaborate Christmas rituals that Morgan and Alex invented as children. They not only put out cookies and milk for Santa, but also placed carrots on the front lawn for his reindeer. Dan didn’t mind standing in for Santa and munching the cookies, but honestly I know Dan didn’t love searching the yard with flash lights Christmas eve to locate and nibble the reindeer’s carrots. Nope, won’t open that box.
Some of our closed Christmas boxes are actual boxes – like the box of ornaments in the basement. Can’t bear to see all the kid crafted decorations; though one in particular keeps popping into my head. Probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, Morgan came home proudly presenting the ornament she had made in class. I t was actually sort of hideous. A flattened pop can sprayed with gold and given a shake of glitter as adornment. Every year thereafter I tried to position the darn thing on the very back of the tree to hide its garish awfulness. Inevitably Morgan would seek it out and place it front and center on the tree for all to admire. Definitely must keep the lid on the ornament box.
In fact we don’t even fill Christmas boxes with presents anymore. I use bags instead. See, I am a hasty/ sloppy present wrapper. Morgan took over that task long ago and loved to tie each bow precisely and decorate all the packages like works of art. I just cannot replay that scene. So now all gifts are placed in bags. Another shift in tradition that allows us to skate through this emotionally charged time of year.
I have to think that Morgan, our beautiful shiny out of the box girl, helps us somehow traverse these rough stretches. We are not unscathed by the holidays. Predictably we become a little raw around the edges. Yes, raw, diminished but still whole and moving forward. Raw, but still permeable to the joy of this season of giving. Raw, but so grateful for the time we had with Morgan our precious little girl now placed in yet another closed box.