Christmas is a season of contrasts – it involves both old and new. For the grieving, it is also a time of the year that is mixed with sorrow and joy.
When families gather together this time of the year, they often experience a twinge of sadness as they are reminded that there is a person (or people) missing that used to be with us during this time of the year.
Amid the happiness and laughter, the great food, the presents and the reunion of loved ones, there are mixed emotions that need to be recognized.
Many of us have strong family traditions during the holidays. Have some of these changed because a loved one is missing this year?
Rather than changing up the traditions, you may want to consider intentionally including a family tradition in order to honour that missing family member.
My first wife used to make almond-flavoured Christmas cookies – they were my all time favourites! I remember the first Christmas after she died and how important it was for me to have those cookies again. My daughter made them for me. As we sat and savoured these cookies one night, we spoke about Mom – remembering her with both tears and laughter. It was wonderful to reminisce.
Two years later, I married again and my new wife, Erica. Now she makes them for me. But now she adds one of her favourite Christmas cookie recipes to the dessert plate and we have a new and blended tradition in our home.
Erica has honoured the old and we have created something new together. This is healthy Christmas grief. Healthy Christmas remembering.
Don’t throw out all your important family traditions that connect you with your loved one who has died. Integrate them into a different Christmas that you create together as you move forward and open yourself up to new joy and love. You can still remember what was important to you in the past while celebrating the new.