My family is approaching the first holiday season without our Jackie; Mother of seven, Grandmother of twenty three, Dads wife of sixty two years. It will be tough, I’m sure, her place beside Dad glaringly empty. We could be miserable and tearful and resentful to God for taking her away. Yet her time had come, just as every ones will, and I have decided to be grateful on our day of thanksgiving for all the years of love and laughter we shared with the woman who brought us so much joy.
I have found some great pictures of Mom in our overflowing box of photos that never made it into an album. She is young in many of these, vibrant and embracing life. Just looking at these pictures brings her back into focus. She will never really leave us, never in spirit anyway. I think I’ll pack them up and bring them along for the rest of the family to enjoy on Thanksgiving day.
We will be using recipes that are Mom’s signature dishes, never served any time other than during the holidays; shrimp salad, almond truffles, her famous turkey stuffing. She made lemon meringue pie that non of us dare try to duplicate and divinity that was light and fluffy as a cloud. Yet, we’ll do our best and probably laugh at the results, wishing she were here to guide us.
I’m going to do my best to encourage story telling as we all sit around the table. What a great time to relive the best moments shared with the ones that have left this world for the next. Stories bring them back to life, they can join our gathering through our recollections, no longer missing but becoming part of the holiday after all. Pictures sharpen our memories and keep them fresh for a while longer. “Momma would love this,” becomes a mantra, filling each persons heart with that personal connection once again.
I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I don’t believe the first year needs to be so hard if everyone is on board to make it a time to celebrate the past, cherish the present, and anticipate good things in the future. Knowing how much she would love our efforts to follow traditions is to show honor to her. It won’t be exactly the same, yet it will be as close as we can get, and it will be good.
Our family is not alone, I know. Holidays are so hard on so many people. It may be that a new tradition should be started or an old one tweaked, done away with or maybe gone back to. We should all be flexible so that however it turns out, it’s joyful, for the sake of our families and for ourselves.
Get everyone in the family on board and make a plan to have a joyful holiday season. Tell some stories and pass around some pictures. It may end up being a great time.