‘I wanted our first Christmas together to be perfect, but tragedy struck. The following year, things were even worse.’: Mom shares importance of love, giving, and opening up about loss during holidays

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“Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I’m not religious, but I love the decorations, lights, music, and the spirit of giving. I have always wanted a family full of kids to enjoy Christmas with and when I met my wife, Becky, I thought I would finally get my wish! Becky had five kids prior to our relationship, and I had one. Becky was raised Mormon and she never really did much when it came to presents and traditions for Christmas, whereas my family was huge on gift-giving.

two women smiling
Courtesy of Dee and Becc

We would open all our presents on the night of Christmas Eve, and the following morning Santa would have left his presents, and we’d have more to open! Years later, I found out my dad was given gifts from local churches for us, but that didn’t take away from the magic I felt every Christmas. I couldn’t wait to give that to my kids, and I always wanted to make sure that if I could spare extra, I would donate to those who collect presents during the holidays. Becky’s children were used to receiving only three presents at Christmas. Something you wear, something you want, and something you need. I wanted our first Christmas together to be perfect since we were trying to get our families to blend.

family smiling on the beach
Courtesy of Dee and Becc

Unfortunately, on Dec. 7, 2018, Becky’s fourth child was in a tragic car accident and ended up being an organ donor. This happened only a few months into our relationship, and so we never even had one Christmas together that was just full of joy and laughter. After her daughter passed, I was even MORE determined to give the kids a big Christmas. Now, I do want to make it clear that I don’t think giving your kids only three presents is bad parenting, but for me specifically, having a big Christmas has been the highlight of my life because I did grow up very poor.

My dad was a single parent and the only person taking care of me and my little brother. On top of that, he is a trans man and had a lot of judgment placed on him, making it harder for him to acquire work at times. We lived off of ketchup sandwiches, ramen, and oatmeal. But every year, my dad made SURE there was a tree full of presents for us. Growing up, we didn’t know that was all his doing, but when we were older and learned the secret behind the magic of Santa, we were able to REALLY appreciate what he did for us. And that is what I wanted to be able to do as a parent because it was the thing my dad did for me.

two moms smiling
Courtesy of Dee and Becc

That year, we got the kids a few presents each. We had four living with us at the time. Becky’s eldest child was already living on her own, married and pregnant. And her fourth child had just passed away, so it was just four kids. They each got several small gifts, but they all got one big gift each that year. While they loved their presents, it wasn’t really fun and festive day. The following year, things were even worse. At this point, Becky’s third child had decided to disown her, and everyone was incredibly depressed. It seemed like we all just barely started feeling like we could breathe again, and then BAM! It was that time of the year again.

kids on the beach
Courtesy of Dee and Becc

Now, we always face an uphill battle of even enjoying the holiday. Her daughter’s car accident was on the night of Thanksgiving, she passed away on December 7, and her birthday was January 11, so as you can see, we have a rough time through the holidays. In 2019, though, it was especially hard on Becky’s youngest, who was 13 at the time. He was the only child from her five that was left at home and so we went all out for his Christmas. We bought him a computer, and his own desk and chair. He was so happy and never expected to get so much. I finally saw that light in his eyes that I had waited my whole life to be able to give to someone.

two kids on a trampoline
Courtesy of Dee and Becc

The following year, 2020, was even better. By this time, Becky’s second child decided to move back in with us and started to really form a bond with me. I was so excited to be able to include them in our gift-giving, and we went all out again. Now it’s 2021. Becky’s second child came out as transgender earlier this year, and I adopted her and helped her get her name legally changed to Olivia. My ex-husband came out as trans last year and is now an Auntie to Becky’s two kids who live with us. We even took a family picture with all of us, including my ex, Emma. And this year, there are more presents under the tree than ever before because our family has grown and become more concrete over the last three years.

Christmas is now more of a tradition for a break in the pain for a couple of days. We spend a good month just drowning in the memory of what we went through a few short years ago, but Christmas morning when the kids get to open their presents, they are rejuvenated for at least a little while, and that is worth it for me. I wanted to share this story because even though it felt wrong to write a story that involves tragedy during Christmastime, I realized that I shouldn’t hide it. The truth is, many people struggle during the holidays from losing loved ones, and we wanted to share our story to let other families out there know it’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to be hurting during this season. And you are not alone.”

moms and their daughter
Courtesy of Dee and Becc

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Dee and Becc from Southern Arizona. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Dee and Becc here:

‘We met when we were married to our second husbands.’: Lesbian couple share journey blending families, having transgender child, ‘Find people who accept you as you are’

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