Wednesday, November 26, 2014

traditions and remembrance

I've been thinking about family traditions, Christmas, birthdays and how we incorporate Molly into everything, a lot.
'Tis the season, after all.

Seb is too small to know anything right now, and since we will be in South Africa for Christmas (I haven't had Christmas at home for 6 years. I am SO excited), we haven't gone bonkers this year round.

Bonkers being getting a Christmas tree, decorations, all of that stuff. But I have been watching my Twinless forums closely to see what others do as families to remember and include their deceased twin.
Most of the people on the Twinless Twin forum are from the other side of the pond, and are, understandably, very American (read: large) in what they do. Here, in Britland, where remembrance over Christmas time and birthdays is a more low-key, poignant sort of affair, I had a good think about how we can include Molly without it being 1) cheesy, b) over the top and c) sad.

Many families hang a Christmas stocking for their other twin. I liked this idea, but I wasn't sure what we would really do with the other stocking. It's all very well, but what would we stuff it with? Surely anything that goes in there wouldn't be meaningful, and wouldn't it just die away after a few years anyway?

So, after some thought, our Christmas family tradition will be as such:
We will fill Sebastian's stocking with things from Father Christmas; and we will fill Molly's stocking with old toys and things we no longer want for children who are less fortunate than us. That way Sebastian will be comforted knowing his sister is very present with us at Christmas while also learning that it's about giving and thinking about those who aren't as lucky as we are.

I had their stockings lovingly crafted, by a lovely lady called Carol who runs her shop on Etsy, and they arrived yesterday.
I have mixed feelings looking at them, but am also comforted - she is with us at a time where families traditionally bandy together, and she hangs out right next to her twin brother. Just as she was meant to.

The other thing we managed to do, (actually, this was the Brit's project mostly), was create a 3D stamp of Molly's footprints.

When they were born, they took her prints in ink. Her little feet are enclosed in a booklet in her memory box, and we thought having them on a stamp meant we could possibly make something out of them/use them.

I had her feet cast in silver not long ago, but they managed to do that from a piece of paper. For the stamp, the Brit used a 3D printer - to create the right diagram, and mould for the stamp.
Had they been born a generation ago, we never would've been able to do such a thing.

And the results were absolutely astonishing.
Dipped in paint, the detail and texture is quite surreal. Bearing in mind her feet were really tiny - the size of a ~33 week old baby - so we stretched them out to make them a little bigger, roughly the size of a 6 month old baby.
Again, technology can be an incredible thing.

It's almost like she has stood there.

All these things may seem like overkill - jewellery, foot stamps, stockings - but it is absolute therapy for me. Again it falls into the acknowledgement basket, and it's a way to process things and remember her, feel close to her.

Now to think of the most appropriate way to acknowledge her on their birthday. Sebastian is 8 months old today, so his first birthday is on the horizon, it's crazy!
I have such mixed emotions about it - I anticipate the day with extreme excitement and utter dread. It's kind of how I felt about the day they were born.


Melanie van Wyk said...

I think your stocking idea is absolutely beautiful, and so thoughtful xx

michelle mccrory said...


Madi said...

That is such a beautiful new tradition xxx

Vannessa said...

Your stockings are lovely, really stunning. I think I told you what we do but at the risk of being repetitive I'm going to do so again, Kendra did have 1 Christmas with us so we bought her a 'stocking' then. She was too small then to really take notice so I bought a little bear which is holding a little red bag. I just put some soft sweets and chips into it the first year. Since she died every year I buy a new angel to hang on the tree which I put into the bag plus of course a chocolate for Mommy! For her birthday I buy a little angel ornament each year, sometimes also 1 for Christmas. At the moment the collection is in a cupboard I need to put a shelf up for them.

I absolutely love the footprint stamp idea. You can stamp cards and even make pictures or stamp it onto wrapping paper. Brilliant! I have an imprint of Kendra's hand and foot at 10 weeks of age plus a handprint of her big brother(he was 6) in clay hanging up in the lounge.

What you are doing is not overkill either, it is your traditions and your way of remembering. Special celebrations like Christmas and birthdays are always hard when you have lost someone, especially the first year. And sometimes subsequent years are even harder as people kind of expect you to have gotten over it but you never do. I mean the pain is not always so raw, it does get easier with time but you never get over it.

Are you going to be in Cape Town when you come to SA? It would be great if we could have a coffee together if you are.

Sharr said...

Dear Peas. Everyday I pray for you to find peace in moving on (with Molly by your side) It will not get better. It will get worse. But it will become bearable because you will have many many many years with your son creating memories and then when this life is over, you will create more memories in eternity with Molly. I love your tradition. I was thinking, perhaps fill her stocking with something new instead of old every year and then go give it to an orphanage, you will find a baby girl there who will enjoy being spoilt with something new in Molly's memory. I don't know you but I pray for your bleeding heart. I wish you only peace this holiday season.

Bug Eyed said...

What about Sebastian giving Molly a gift each Xmas and birthday and vice versa?

Would ease Sebastian into knowing who Molly is in the long term. He might not understand until he's old enough, but kids can be incredibly accepting of things when it's the norm from an early age.

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks everyone. xxx

Vannessa - I remember your traditions on the decorations - so beautiful - and such a lovely idea. I felt so sad reading about Kendra's stocking. Have you kept it? I love the idea of angel ornaments for her too. Would love to meet up for a coffee! We aren't in CT long and have tons of family to see, but if I have a moment would love to catch up xxx

Sharr - that's a great idea too, especially this year as we don't have anything old of Seb's to give yet, so will get some new things. xx

Bug Eyed - I LOVE that. Such a great idea! I will do this for their birthdays and Xmas as they get older. Thank you xx