by Julie Lockhart, December 2012
With the holidays coming, many of us who have lost loved ones may feel a sense of dread. Every year I brace myself for what’s coming – decorations, songs, good cheer, shopping, and families gatherings. Yikes, if I could hide under the covers until it’s over, I would. But I have a daughter. She was six when her Dad died eight years ago, so I have no choice but to face the holidays and make it memorable for my girl. Sometimes we host a big dinner party – I love to fill our home with good friends and laughter. Some years, we travel to someplace warm to get away, just the two of us. We’re looking forward to a road trip to Palm Springs this year.
I asked WinterSpring friends for some ideas on getting through the holidays, and here’s some of what they offered:
1. Keep your commitments to a minimum. Give yourself permission to lighten your load.
2. We honor our loved one by starting new traditions. For example, we choose a child from a Giving Christmas Tree and help make his/her Christmas that much brighter.
3. We do volunteer work for the day of the holiday – serving soup, distributing blankets to the homeless, or visiting a nursing home to sing.
4. I made a candle with pictures of my Grandma all around it and we lit it in memory of her. It felt like a little piece of her was there with us.
5. I honor my loved one by placing a special ornament on the tree.
6. I go easy on myself and buy ready-made pies instead of baking them.
7. I traveled quite a lot to other people’s homes to celebrate Christmas — sister’s, brother’s, daughter’s — so my youngest daughter and I would not be stuck at home alone during the Holidays.
8. One year I sent out CDs of my wife’s Favorite Christmas Music, another year a CD of all the old family Christmas pictures — copied by me (many hours of time).
9. I sent cards with long, hand-written messages to all the people I loved — to stay in touch with those important to me.
10. I baked Christmas cookies for my siblings and children.
11. Every year I make a fairly substantial donation to the Ashland Community Hospital’s “Tree With Lights” fundraising campaign, in my wife’s name, to help fund the birthing center, and include a notification to my daughters.
12. Follow your instincts – Do only as much as you’re comfortable with doing. If you don’t feel like sending holiday cards, don’t. You don’t have to do anything you really don’t feel like doing.
May you find peace and be surrounded by love this holiday season.