Christmas is coming in just a few weeks and with it an anniversary I have been dreading for months – the anniversary of my husband’s death. More specifically, what I’ve been dreading is having Christmas with my boys knowing that they will be thinking so much about the death of their dad.Christmas in our home has always been such a big deal, a carryover from when I was a kid and Christmas was huge; an exciting time when all of my aunts and uncles would come to our house to bring gifts to us kids and to sit at my mother’s table and eat a tremendous amount of really good food. My childhood memories of Christmas are full of family and fun and excitement. I have tried, ever since the boys were born, to transfer to them some of that same wonder and excitement about Christmas. I think I’ve been pretty successful at that. We would start the morning out with a really big breakfast. Jordan and Ceaser would make New Orleans-style benets (sugary puff donuts minus the holes) and I would ground some expensive coffee beans and make coffee to go with the delicious treats. Then we would all gather around the tree with me playing Santa and handing out gifts to everyone. We always kept our gifts to one another a big secret. The night before everyone would run around the house trying to hide while they wrapped gifts and then sneak to slip them under the tree; so much fun.So you can see why I have been really thinking a lot about how to preserve the “joy” of Christmas for them in light of them having lost their dad just four days before the holiday. He was such a big part of our celebration. He was always so bad a buying gifts that It became a family joke. If I didn’t guide him he would have probably bought the boys box book sets or pen sets every year because Ceaser loved interesting looking pens. You know, I just might do that this year just to get a laugh out of the boys.I just don’t want them to grow up being Scrooges. So many people find the holidays a depressing time. For many of those people it is because something tragic happened in their past at that time of the year. I don’t want that to be my boys.Sure they will always remember that their dad died Dec. 21, 2010, and I don’t want them to forget that either. So you see my dilemma. How do you celebrate this beautiful holiday at the same time you remember the saddest day of your life? I thought that maybe I could spend a lot of money and buy them each a huge gift and hope that maybe they would be so excited about the gift that it would overshadow any grief they may feel. I thought that at least the gift would garner a smile from each of them and that would be my gift. Clearer thinking told me that wouldn’t work. No gift would be enough to keep them from thinking about the fact that their dad wasn’t there to share the joy with them. So I trashed that idea. Then I thought about what it really was about those Christmases of my youth that actually made them so special. It wasn’t really the gifts I got. I don’t even remember any particular gift that was so awesome. It was mostly books and pajamas and toys that broke too soon. The big deal was all the family that came together and the enormous meal we all took a part in preparing. And I remember that last year, after several years of the four members of the Williams family spending Christmas in Kansas City, we were planning to head to New York to be with my brother and sister their families, and our friends there for the holiday, when Ceaser died.Family, that is what makes Christmas special. So instead of huge gifts I decided to spend the money on plane tickets so that we could spend this holiday with our family.My brother and sister are really excited about us coming home for the holiday. They have been planning New York City outings for weeks now. The boys are excited about the trip too. I know that at some point during the trip we all will pause to remember Ceaser. But the sadness will be brief. I know that the moment someone mentions his name or how much we miss having him in the mix it will turn to hilarious stories about him and some of the crazy things he would do, or the elaborate Christmas meal he would plan. We’ll laugh about the time we traveled to New York and he spent the entire time reading a Harry Potter book. Or the summer we visited and all went to the beach. Ceaser who always said he wasn’t a beach person walk right up to where the concrete meets the sand and propped open a lawn chair and sat on the edge of the sand. He was wearing long pants socks and sneakers. He never set foot on the sand.That’s what I’m shooting for; spending this Christmas with family and friends, great memories and huge amounts of laughter. I’m thinking, if the boys can look back on the anniversary of their father’s death, look back at this first Christmas after such a really tough year, and remember that they were surrounded by family, it will ease the sadness, and conjure good thoughts about the holidays that along with great memories of their dad, will last a lifetime. Wish me luck and a merry Christmas.