Our family has always enjoyed celebrating the magic of Christmas. Every year, we look forward to repeating the traditions in our families of gathering, gift giving, making traditional family recipes and helping those who are alone and in need.
Growing up, I was the oldest of eleven children and money was scarce, but my parents always tried to make Christmas a special time. We would look forward to delicious warm lasagna on Christmas Eve with mocha cakes and Wheaties cookies for dessert. And on New Year’s Eve we would enjoy cold – non-alcoholic Crème de Menthe ice cream shakes as we played all sorts of games as a family.
I look back on those years with great love and fondness for the traditions my parents started, and that I continue with my family. I found out a few years ago from my own kids just how much they counted on those traditions. We were decorating the Christmas tree, using our traditional ornaments we’ve had for over 20 years. Thinking it might be a time for a change, I approached my kids and asked if they’d mind if I didn’t use some of the decorations. They responded immediately with an emphatic “No! Keep things the same!” It was comforting and eye-opening to see how they wanted to maintain our traditions that brought them consistency and comfort.
We live in an ever changing world. Unexpected things can happen that can turn our lives upside down. For me such a day became a reality on December 18, 2020 when I received a phone call from my sister at 11:00pm. She let me know that earlier that night, both my mom and dad were killed in a car accident. It was impossible to believe they were gone. I had just talked to them hours before. It was such a shock to deal with – just one week before Christmas!
It’s been a year of reflection and times of great sadness and loss. But even amidst all of this, we are trying to .. embrace the traditions they have left behind.
Since that time, my siblings, family and I have struggled with the reality that our parents aren’t here to celebrate the holidays with us. It’s been a year of reflection and times of great sadness and loss. But even amidst all of this, we are trying to emulate their examples of service, love and embrace the traditions they have left behind. My parents always looked for ways to serve others wherever they saw a need. Now, it is our hope to lighten the hearts and lives of those around us, in their memory. We are also left with their traditions that will help us feel closer to them, even though they have passed on. I will forever be grateful for the traditions that bring comfort and security to my family as we celebrate year to year.