There’s something about the holiday season that makes us miss loved ones who have passed away. This is going to be my third Christmas without my dad. Mostly I’m at peace with him being gone, but there are times when I miss him fiercely.
Discovering a box of my old pictures when getting ready to decorate was one of those times. There were a ton of pictures of dad in that box… pictures that I had forgotten about. Pictures of my first time at camp and he was a counselor, pictures that I remember him taking and the rough one was a random candid that I took of my dad and his mom about 15 years ago with my Crayola camera that used 110 film.
Everyone handles loss, old or new, differently around the holidays and the best advice that I can give is to let them. If they want to reminisce about traditions with that person, listen. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t try to make them talk.
I don’t entirely subscribe to the Christmas tree as a scrapbook type mindset. I have some ornaments for the big things, like a first Christmas together ornament or a new home ornament but I don’t go get an ornament for everything. If you wanted a tour of my Christmas tree and to see specifically where my dad fits into it, I would show you these really cool green and red ornaments that he and my mom gave me the year Brad and I were engaged so that I’d have ornaments when we got our first tree. I’d show you the nativity ornament that he picked out especially for me another year. Then I might show you the only memorial ornament that I keep on our tree, it’s the one that was given to me with his picture from someone who knows what it’s like to lose a parent and spend that first Christmas without them.
I don’t think I’ll ever not think about my dad at the holidays and this will be the first Christmas without my grandmother. The holidays can be tough at times, but it shouldn’t take away from the joy of the season. Fostering the fond memories and continuing traditions are the best way for me to keep from being sad or angry that my loved ones aren’t here.
The main thing that I would like to put out there from my own experience, is please don’t try to force someone to relive the hurt of loss during the holidays, let them handle it how they need to.