It was Pepper’s turn to blog, and I’m sure she would have told you about her Thanksgiving with her family, and offered a photo or two of her table decorated for the occasion. Knowing her, she would have included a recipe for something delicious. I’m hoping her daughter or daughter-in-law stepped up and took over the family meal, but I know their hearts are heavy.
After my husband died, that first Thanksgiving I tried to ignore, and I guess I succeeded for I have no memories of that day. But Christmas put our family together. I had a long standing rule that my girls could go with their hubbys’ families for Thanksgiving, but I had them for Christmas Eve! And as that day grew closer, I dreaded it. The thought of cleaning everything, putting up a tree, and cooking that big meal… I didn’t think I had the strength to smile and get through it.
Then one afternoon my daughter called and announced that she was doing Christmas Eve at her house. It was already settled and all I had to do was show up. She was usurping my matriarch position? Go right ahead! I think I called her twenty times to be certain she had not forgotten to get the ingredients for… All I heard was Mom-I-got-it-covered. It was as though she had developed that mantra for me every time I called.
When that fateful day came, I went to her house at the proper time. (Actually, I was late. She called as I was leaving my house and asked me to bring a pie plate. Um, she had borrowed all of mine! I stopped at Walmart and grabbed a few.) The meal was delicious and somehow we all got through it. We laughed and we cried a little, but mostly we laughed. Most of the conversations started with do you remember when? We realized we could enjoy being together, and although we missed hubby/Dad/Grandpa we still had each other. We were still here and filled with life. We had fun. From that point onward, we realized we missed him, but that we could face the holidays without him.
I hope Pepper’s family finds that same peace. I hope they found laughter to overcome the tears. And that they will be able to face Christmas with joy in their hearts.
We don’t forget the ones we love, we just have to learn that we can keep going without them. To all of you who have lost someone special this year… I hope you find some joy in the upcoming holidays. Don’t be afraid to share your memories, to laugh, and to enjoy your family and friends. Because that little firelight inside of us will never go out. We will always miss the ones we loved, but we do learn that we can face the holidays without them. (Just keep plenty of tissues handy.)