Change in Plans


For the past few weeks, I have been doing well. There is an enjoyment to the holiday season that I haven’t been able to feel for the past two years. I have a sweet, smiley baby. Two older kids that are so excited for all of the Christmas activities we have planned. Events that we have attended as a family – just enough, not too much. The winter days have been mild.

And this year I have found ways to incorporate Nelle and Iris. I bought them stockings. I found a little tree. A friend gave me an ornament in memory of her son, and I ordered personalized ornaments with their names and birthdates.

All of this was lovely… until Iris’s ornament did not arrive.

Nelle’s ornament arrived several days ago, a ceramic snowflake. Being such a small package, I have no idea why the two shipped separately. Nelle’s arrived, but not Iris’s. I checked the tracking information. It showed “rescheduled” for the next day. It still did not arrive and showed “rescheduled” again. And again. Finally, today it had a new status: “Delivery information unavailable.”  I am guessing it is lost.

I am not hopeful that Pottery Barn Kids will help me much, as it is quite clear from their website that personalized items were not available. Possibly a refund, but since it wasn’t very expensive and it was bothering me that I had one ornament and not the other, I decided to place another order. I knew that with the name engraved it would not arrive until after Christmas, but had to make myself be ok with that.

Until I realized that the ornament was no longer available. Sold out for the season. No other remaining ornament options would complement the first. I either had to get something completely different for Iris, or order two new ornaments to have a set (and then what to do with Nelle’s ornament?). Or wait until next year to see if it became available again. Or pray that by some miracle my ornament would be found by UPS and delivered.

I cried. It was around 4:00 am; I was awake after feeding Autumn. When I realized I would not have the ornaments together, I had huge, wet tears streaming down my face. I probably place a hundred online orders every year. And the ONE item that doesn’t arrive is my ornament?

It felt like a harsh change from all of the joy I had been experiencing. The little tree was suddenly all wrong without the matching ornament. In my sleepy, angry state, I briefly considered smashing Nelle’s ornament, or at least hiding it somewhere so that I wouldn’t have to look at one without the other. Nothing felt right. I am going to have to stare at that tree and know it is incomplete and feel helpless: there is nothing I can do.  I never did fall back asleep so then expected that the day would be long.

I told Ger what had happened.  In a bit of desperation, we both went out to a local store that we thought might carry some unique ornaments; in an effort to find a new set for this year.  We walked through every display twice, finding nothing that felt exactly right.  However, a small rocking horse caught my eye.  I’m not exactly sure why.  A rocking horse is always associated with children.  Maybe a reminder of the children we do not have?  The toys that will never be opened Christmas morning?

I came home with the rocking horse, deciding that it could be a “stand-in” for Iris’s ornament this year, and next year I will try to find something for the tree.  It is sitting next to the tree, between a photo of my mom and dad as children, along with their siblings.  While better than the idea of having nothing for her, it was in the category of the previous two years, where the celebrations and preparations weren’t what I had pictured.  It suddenly feels much colder.  I lost a little bit of warmth from the holiday and reminded by my missing ornament that, once again, life doesn’t go as planned.