‘Tis the season for gratitude and wonderment.
While many of us subscribe to a life of living gratefully, nothing seems to drive it home more than the holiday season.
For many of us it can be a bittersweet time as we take in the company and celebrate with loved ones, yet feel the void and missing piece of those no longer with us. A void which never gets easier and somehow just becomes tolerable – at best.
I’ve always thought of the holidays as a time to not just remember the ones we’ve lost but honor them in a way which would be unique unto that person: stories, traditions, things which were uniquely them.
I love sharing stories of loved ones no longer with us with my children, reminiscing with my family. That’s what I want to highlight for this column space as we head into the 2023 holiday season. The gratitude of memories from loved ones who make the season all that much better.
I recently saw a post on social media as someone was struggling with limited funds and how to give her teen boys a memorable Christmas. So many people commented on memories made through the holidays as their means were limited yet time with family was abundant. I love that.
That’s the true spirit and magic of the holiday season, for this girl. Taking the time to spend with our families and loved ones. Pausing for a moment or two to appreciate the beauty of the lives we’ve each been given and the people we get to share it with.
When my duo was little, we had an annual cookie decorating party with their friends which sustained us as families for many years. Each year their final week of school the mommies would coordinate our calendars and make a plan for whose house and what date we would corral our kiddos to decorate sugar cookies. It was something we as moms looked forward to as much as our kids did.
We used to do something similar with my grandmother when we were small and she was living. It felt special to then share the same tradition with my children and our school friends.
As busy as life gets traditions are truly one of the most magical things about this time of the year for me. Taking out the stockings we’ve had since each child’s first Christmas, sprinkling the tree with ornaments from the past and stories to go with.
Stories of mom being sequestered to my aunt’s master bedroom as a child on Christmas eve to wrap all the gifts, while she prepared for Christmas hors d’oeuvres and punch and my mom worked. Years later, as my partner put me to the same task three days before and a dining table full of “giving” with wrapping paper to the side, I couldn’t help but giggle and shared this story from my childhood.
The point of all this being, it really isn’t about “stuff.” While yes, that part can be fun, or challenging depending on the gift, it’s the memories and the moments which sustain us for years to come.
The decorating traditions, the cookies, the meals, the family stories and the lights. It’s the meaning which brings us together and the memories which sustain us, even when the ones we love are no longer physically present. The memories keep them present and that’s the greatest of gifts.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.