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Honoring holiday traditions and memories

Honoring holiday traditions and memories

By Terre Mirsch

We promised ourselves that we would avoid the last minute rush this year.  We had a plan that would somehow make this year’s holiday preparations different than the previous ones where the hustle and bustle of the season left little time for actual enjoyment.  Internet shopping would enable us to avoid the shopping mall crowds during the weeks preceding Christmas.  Decorating the weekend following Thanksgiving, as many do, would provide us opportunity to enjoy the décor and relax as the holidays approached.

But the best made plans often go awry and such was the case with our Thanksgiving weekend decorating plans.  It was two more weeks before we hurriedly went up to the attic to bring down the decorations that would transform our home for the holidays.  My daughter began handing me one box after the other.  We only had an hour and we were determined to get everything down–quickly.

There is was.  The ceramic Christmas tree–the one I made nearly 30 years ago.  The one Rosemary helped me make.  It was my first (and last) venture with ceramics.  As a newlywed, I was fortunate to meet Rosemary and her family–long time family friends of my ‘new’ family.  I always admired her willingness to take anyone under her wing and the ways that she was involved in the community.  Year after year, without much thought, the ceramic tree took its place among the other decorations that accumulated over the years.  But this year was different- we honored Rosemary’s legacy following her long battle with cancer just the week before.  Suddenly, this ceramic tree took on a whole different meaning.

And so did many of the other decorations I encountered that night… the wooden reindeer Dad carved even though the sawdust irritated his lungs…the  angels and snowflakes Nana crocheted with her crooked little fingers until she was 90 years old and couldn’t see well enough to continue.  No longer were these objects that quickly needed to be put in place- they were memories.  They were stories that needed to be told and traditions that needed to be continued.

As caregivers or as one who is experiencing grief following loss, pausing long enough to reflect on these memories and traditions can help make your holiday season a meaningful one.

What is your favorite holiday memory?  What holiday traditions are important to you and your family?

Perhaps you make traditional dishes for your holiday meal that includes foods or recipes that have been passed from generation to generation.  Maybe your family makes Christmas cookies every year.  You may possibly attend a local show or go caroling in the neighborhood.  Or perhaps your family puts up the tree together every Christmas Eve.  For some, the holiday prayer before the meal has been passed down from others.  These holiday memories and traditions are as unique as each person and family that holds them.  Honoring them creates legacies, bonds, and connections.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever avoid the last minute shopping or the late night wrapping.  Perhaps the last minute craziness will be my own tradition!  But I will be sure that, in the midst of the chaos, we always take the time to remember the people and the traditions that bring meaning to our lives.

May beautiful moments and happy memories surround you and your family with joy this holiday season and always…

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