When Traditions Change: Remembering Loved Ones At The Holidays

Thanksgiving used to be one of my favorite holidays. With 20-25 close family members gathered around, we laughed. We ate. We went for a walk. And ate some more! From my childhood, I remember the teeny little crystal glasses with handles even my small fingers couldn’t grasp filled with all sorts of liqueurs. “After dinner drinks,” the grownups called them. Mum and Dad loved cooking up the usual turkey with Meme’s meat stuffing. Dad ALWAYS made his famous apple pie. And Uncle Bob would have a fit if we didn’t have his favorite marinated mushrooms.


After lots of hors d’oeuvres (thank god for spell checker!), we all gathered around the dining room table for the feast of the year. Oh! My mouth waters just thinking about it!


Those days are gone now. Mum and Dad have died. The old homestead has been sold. The rest of the family have gone their own ways. Those first holidays without my family, without those traditions that I treasured for most of my life, were hard. Very hard.


I tried to enjoy the food and the festivities. And yes, there were moments of laughter and fun. But the sense of emptiness and loss I felt were what prevailed, especially when the traditional parts of the day came. Not only had Ioved ones died, but my family became broken. And those rituals brought a renewed sense of the hurt and pain. I had to say goodbye to those rituals as well.


That was hard to do. I miss them. Yet there was a sense of freedom in letting go as well. I am free to treasure the memories! I treasure the teamwork and partnership Mom and Dad had and the amazing dishes they created! I treasure the movie of my mom’s eager anticipation as she watched us open our goodies.  She always finished shopping and wrapping so early that she forgot what she got us. I treasure Pepere sitting under the tree, handing out gifts one by one.


My children and I have created new traditions in their place. And for us, now, they are just as precious and meaningful as those of my own childhood.


What new tradition will you incorporate this holiday season?



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