Friday, November 23, 2007

As the Holidays Roll Out...

Christmas Eve is a pretty big deal around here. We have a tradition of going to church in the afternoon, coming home and opening new pajamas, and eating a formal dinner by candlelight in our pj’s. The year Great Grandma Florence passed away two days prior was a somber one. Family from Michigan had joined us here (for the funeral that would take place on the 26th), and although everyone tried to get into the Christmas spirit by wearing pajamas to our house, it was tough. I can’t tell you about the depths of Grandpa Bob’s sorrow that night (the computer screen becomes blurry just thinking about Grandpa 4444's seemingly-bottomless grief). Normally very jovial and full of Christmas Spirit, his heart was quiet that night. He had lost his mother (his best friend) and a larger-than-life personality that helped define our family’s character.

Earlier that day, I had bought a tall, burgundy-colored pillar candle and a gold stand to hold it in a place of prominence on the mantel. As we gathered that night, I shared my idea to light the candle and keep it lit throughout our Christmas Eve celebration as a way of remembering the four 4444 family grandparents we had lost in the past couple of years, including Gram Florence. Bob seemed unimpressed, but he did consent to lighting the candle for me.

I don’t remember anything else about the night except the ending. After hugs good bye, as Bob was heading out the door, he called out, “Don’t forget to blow Gramma out--She’d hate like hell to burn the house down!” That gives you a glimpse of the sense of humor he had and how much someone like that in a family would be missed (He passed away, unexpectedly, 6 weeks later, due to a massive heart attack).

When Great Grandma Florence and Grandpa Bob were taken from our family, (especially in the span of 6 weeks time) it was like a kick in the stomach; we couldn’t breathe, and we wondered about the injustice of it. Our identity as a family took such a hit, it was hard to believe we would ever be anything special without Gram and Bob. However, we have made it. We have “regrouped,” so-to-speak. I still miss Gram’s and Bob’s great senses of humor and their thoughtfulness, among other things. However, I see their spirits in my husband and children, who are their offspring and have inherited their wit, generosity, and fun-loving personalities. I wear the sweaters Gram lovingly knit for us, and I see Bob’s influence when my husband demonstrates (constantly) what an amazing dad he is to our kids.

While our family will never be the same without Gram and Bob, it is still special. What I’m trying to say is that if you have lost a family member this year, or if you just miss someone who is no longer with you this holiday season, I appreciate your pain. I understand your sense of loss, and I care. Hang tough; the pain of loss softens over time, even if it doesn’t completely go away. Remember the good times. Start a new tradition in the name of family. Pray for healing.

You are in my prayers…


  1. I really like the candle idea. Maybe this year, I'll do something similar.

    I don't think I've ever heard of anyone else getting new pajamas on Christmas eve. That's so cool!

  2. I really like the candle idea too. I am going to share your idea with others as well.

  3. I wonder if we discussed the PJ thing many years ago at the Teddy Bear Picnic. Our family, like yours always gets new PJ's. We have ever since I was a young child.
    I have to say, I so love reading your blog. You have such a way with words. Someday, maybe soon, I will take your advise and give it a try.
    Hugs to you and yours -

  4. I do remember talking about that so long ago (has it really been 13 years since we've seen each other?!) We had a lot in common then, and we still do. I'm glad we caught up with each other again :) Thanks for the compliment; it means a lot, especially coming from witty you! I look forward to reading a blog of yours one day!

  5. Lovely post.
    I have been lucky this year to not lose any family members, though I did lose a friend. This is the time of year for honouring them with memories, I guess!

  6. Very touching story! I am glad that their footprints in your lives are still affecting you in positive ways. :) Your children will have so many great memories! Thanks for sharing.

  7. This was a really bad year for me in terms of deaths. Too many people I knew passed away. I'm kinda wishing for this year to be over with.

  8. I know this is an older post and I know you reposted it recently... I'm pulling together some favorite Christmas posts for my blog post this Weds and I'll be linking to this one!

  9. I had not read this one and I'm grateful that you linked it in your SS thing.

    This post is like the Christmas spirit. Hard to describe but you know it when it magically shows up and you feel it.

    The memories of ones who shared our love keeps that love alive.

  10. My aunts and uncles up in CT where my father was born are too elderly to do Christmas any more. My father has passed away, my mother has remarried. My cousins have split away and do their own things. No more incredible Christmases in CT.

    I so glad we have our little one to bring the joy of Christmas to us, but I will never forget over 35 years of Christmases spent with family we only saw once a year. I wish my little boy could have been a part of it, but things change and life goes on.

  11. My Mom died last Thanksgiving, I miss her every single day. Thanks for lovely thoughts on celebrating your loved ones during the holidays. :)

  12. The year my dad died on Dec 9th and was buried on my birthday, was a cheerless Christmas, for sure. But you are right at the way our family personality keeps popping up in ourselves and our kids.

    It is a wonderful thing to know that family is special, and I pity anyone who doesn't have that strong connection and identity. That was a great post!

  13. "Blow Gramma out." Great sense of humour!


Your 2 cents...