I’ve learned a lot over the past four years of holidays without my mom.
Even as I type that I’m shaking my head at the overwhelming feeling that rushes over me when I read “four years”. It will be four years this spring since she left us, yet some days it still feels like yesterday.
The holidays are the hardest for me. My mom LOVED this time of year. Even if she only had $1.00 left in her bank account on December 26th, she made sure my brother and I had the BEST holiday ever. And even though she’s not here anymore, I know that her spirit is all around.
Over the past 4 years I’ve learned some hard lessons and some sweet lessons. The hard lessons have molded me into a better version of myself. The sweet lessons have helped me continue to have the BEST holiday ever, even in her absence.
Lesson #1: Bring the memories to life. The holidays were such a special time for my mother. I can remember long nights of baking cookies, late night shopping trips to Wal-Mart, picking out (or chopping down!) a fresh Christmas tree and decorating it that night (she could never wait), and gift-wrapping marathons watching Hallmark Christmas movies over and over again. Every year I make sure to do all of these things, and this year, for the first time in a long time I found myself thinking about my mother and chuckling to myself as I walked down the aisles of Wal-Mart at 5am. 😉
Lesson #2: Give. Giving to others has always helped me cope with grief; especially around the holidays. My mother was always ready to do something nice for others. Her late night baking adventures meant treats for my dad to take to work, treats for our local postal worker and even for the garbage men. This year was full of giving. Just recently a wonderful group of my closest friends came together to prepare dinner and holiday cookies for the families at the Ronald McDonald House in Tampa. Giving to others fills a void and eases the helplessness you may feel after loss. It lifts your spirits and builds a grateful heart.
Lesson #3: Surround yourself with those who care the most about you. My mother was the life of the party. She loved socializing, and being around friends and family. The holidays are a time for togetherness, especially after the loss of a loved one. Make time to visit, have dinner with friends, be present and surround yourself with positive and joyful people. Nothing is more uplifting that good company, lots of laughs and making new memories with the ones you love.
Lesson #4: Live. Accept the invitation to that holiday party. Drive around looking at Christmas lights. Sing along to carols on the radio. Smile as Charlie Brown picks out that little tree. Order your cafe mocha with whipped cream. Take that vacation you’ve been thinking about. Sign up for that 5k you’ve been hoping to finish. Buy that outfit you’ve been eyeing. Life is for living, and our loved ones would want nothing more than for us to live it.
Wishing you a beautiful, fun and memorable holiday season! I hope you get everything you wish for!