caption - title

The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ways to include your angel child in the Christmas season

Finding ways to remember Lilly during the Christmas holiday season is very important to me.  It is healing and I just don't want her forgotten.  I must still have a lot of healing to do at this time of the year though, because honestly I really wish we could just skip the whole month of December.  (I'm not sure if this is strictly due to Lilly's death on December 15, 2011 - or if it's other things too.)  But because we have three kids here, I fight my desire to be Scrooge and dig in. 

Photo used on our 2012 Christmas Card (photo credit: Steve Rubin)
Solomon, Tabby, Hunter, LillyBear, Sam the dog
We send annual Christmas cards, and I always include Lilly in the card in some way.  It just feels wrong not to, as she will always be a part of this family, even if she is living in heaven!  The above photo was the one I used on a Christmas card the first year after Lilly's death.  The kids are all wearing Lilly-colored hats and Hunter is holding LillyBear - all in honor of Lilly.  In our signature line, I always have our names printed like this:  Frank, Lisa, Tabby, Hunter, <Lilly>, Solomon.  In this year's card, I used a collage of several pictures of our kids from the year.  I included Lilly by using this photo of Solomon holding her picture:

Another annual tradition I have is to buy each of my children a Christmas tree ornament.  The ornament usually reflects something of interest from that year.  (One day, when the children move out, they will take their collection with them and have a nice start to their own tree.)  I still include Lilly in this, by getting her a different angel-type ornament each year.  For the first year it goes on our family tree:

Lily-of-the-Valley Flower Fairy
Then the next year, it goes on Lilly's tree.  The theme for Lilly's tree in December is angels:

Lilly also has her own Christmas stockings, that are hung up with the rest of the family's.  We have our "originals" that we fill.  Lilly's is an angel stocking:

We also have our really fancy, handmade stockings, that I hang on our staircase.  These were given to us by A.S., a kind woman I met through this blog:

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a group that provides free remembrance photography to families losing a baby.  Their December 2012 e-newsletter had this list of suggestions of ways to honor angel children (or anyone who has passed away):

  • Ornament with you baby's name
  • Light candles decorated for your baby
  • Special decorations at the headstone
  • Decorate a special tree
  • Make a gift for your baby
  • Make a snow globe
  • Make a reindeer or something else with the baby's footprints
  • Use a special bear or similar stuffed toy given when you lost your baby as a tree topper
  • Buy a present for your baby, wrap it and then unwrap it on Christmas and add to the baby's memory box
  • Include your baby's name in your Christmas cards
  • Buy a small potted Christmas tree.  After Christmas, plant it somewhere
  • Tell the story of your baby to your family
  • Buy presents for your living children that are from your baby (their sibling).
  • Take pictures of the special gifts and mementos and add to a photo album to remember what you did each year
  • Donate preemie clothing to a hospital for other preemies
  • Make small decorations for all the babies buried near your baby
  • Buy a toy or gift for a child who is in need.  You can buy a gift for a child the same age as your baby would be
  • Give a small decoration for all the babies buried near your baby
  • Encourage others to do a random act of kindness in honor of your baby.  Ask them to write it down and put it in your baby's stocking.  On Christmas morning read all the acts of kindness done in honor of your baby.
  • Give to a nonprofit, such as NILMDTS in the baby's name 

I especially like the things done for others, in honor of your baby, that are in the above list.  I'd like to incorporate one or two of them into our December next year.

Another tradition we have is that on December 15, Lilly's "angelversary", we take a little Christmas tree to her grave.  In honor of her July 4th birthday, it is a red/white/blue tree.  The tree stays at her grave (staked down) until after Christmas:

Here are two other ways I involve Lilly in our Christmas decor.  Clive, our Elf on the Shelf, hid in Lilly's stocking, and he hid amongst her mantel memorial:

And LillyBear wears a Santa hat:

The Trisomy 18 online community has been a huge blessing to me.  Both when Lilly was alive and even now, afterwards.  I love how we remember each other's little ones.  The mama of Jordan, a little girl that lived 3 days with Trisomy 18, recently sent me this adorable fairy ornament and the picture of the New River Gorge Bridge (in West Virginia), to remember Lilly:

There's so many more ideas out there and I think that in general, including memories of your loved one during the holidays is a good thing.  Because you probably will be thinking of them anyway, so try and make the memories positive.

Photos from Christmas Day 2010 - Lilly's one Christmas here on earth:

"Santa can wait ... I need my nap!"
"See - my ever clenched fists are great for holding things!"

If you do things to honor your child during Christmas, I would love to hear what sort of things you do.


  1. Are you doing anything for your newest angel baby this year? I'm in the midst of a miscarriage, and while it's too fresh to buy anything for the tree this year I like the idea of getting a themed ornament every year. I would really like to skip December this year too, but next year I will be looking for ways to remember the baby I never even got to see, both on my due date and at Christmas. Thank you for sharing the list!

    1. Oh I am SO sorry to hear about your miscarriage! I did buy my baby an ornament this year. I named my baby "Blueberry" and so I bought a little ornament with a bear with a bucket of blueberries. (There's a picture a few posts back.) I debated about putting Blueberry's name on the card, but it feels weird because we have a number of relatives that know about it but have not said a thing to us. Honestly I feel rather confused about how to handle it all. I need to get it worked out in my mind. Because I surely don't feel Blueberry is any less important than Lilly, even though I never got to see that baby. I'd love to hear what you end up doing. And you are right about doing something on the due date too.

    2. I think early miscarriage is something people who haven't gone through it have a very hard time understanding. It doesn't feel very fair to me, but practically everyone else in my family seems to think it's perfectly okay to let my baby pass without a single word while gushing over and buying things for my niece who is due in May. My mom even showed me an outfit she was thinking of getting her when we were at Target 3 days after I'd passed what was left. (My baby had died long before and only the sac was visible on ultrasound.) They just don't get it that these are babies that we lost and their existence deserves to be acknowledged and remembered.

    3. Well it does sound like it is "normal" for people not to say anything. I just don't understand that, as I have always told people I was sorry about their loss. It is a REAL BABY. Someone I know said one Christian friend told her it was "just a mass of cells." Perhaps if pictures of tiny month old babies were circulated more, people could "get it." But, perhaps it is also - what I've found with Lilly's life and death - death makes people very uncomfortable and they would rather not say anything about it. That makes me want to cry for you thinking about that scene at Target. Ouch. When was your baby due?