There are a few things which I think are particularly poignant. For me, one of those is signing a card.
When you first have a baby there's the excitement of adding their name to yours. And then to their siblings as your family grows. But what do you do when you stop including a name?
I remember the first time I had to do this - my sister in law's 30th birthday - 19th August 2007. 9 days after Monkey died - the day before his funeral. It was horrible. 17 days earlier I'd written her anniversary card from me, my husband, Monkey & Pickle. I saw both cards on the windowsill and it really brought it home.
The 2007 Christmas card writing session was tough. You're repeatedly leaving a gap. The flow of names is just not right. You do it about 40 or 50 times. That year was tough for others too - I know a lot of people didn't know what to say. 'Happy Christmas' just wasn't quite right (although we did have a Happy Christmas). One (lovely but slightly odd) friend included Monkey's name in brackets which was lovely (but slightly odd). But I loved the fact that she was brave enough to say his name and let us know in that way that she was thinking of us and him. We did have lots of lovely acknowledgements but we also had lots of friends and family who didn't, or couldn't, acknowledge Monkey's absence in some way. I don't blame them - I would have had no idea what to do in the same situation. And even now couldn't promise I'd get it right.
2008 year was strange too. A new name to add, Wotsit, but it didn't have quite the same ring.
This year, what was hard was that actually I have got used to Monkey's name not being there. I still feel the gap but it's not as obvious. Although just as painful. I had a Christmas card from a friend whose daughter died and she had written the card to the four of us and drawn a little star. And she'd signed it from the four of them and her little star. I loved that.
So, if you're on my Christmas card list - have a look - you'll see 3 kisses. One from each of my boys.