Long-Lasting Grief, Cherished Traditions

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Watching television today, there was actually a commercial about Thanksgiving already! O.M.G. We aren’t even to the half-way mark of September yet, for God’s sake! What is this?! I know I say it every year, but it is true every year — The holiday advertisements come earlier & earlier!

I am not a huge fan of the holiday season. I think I want to be. But I am not. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my mother passed away in January, spending her last holiday season hooked up to a ventilator in the hospital. I was at a pretty pivotal age in life (I had just turned 17), so perhaps it had more of a lasting effect than I’d care to admit. There are a lot of traditions & memories tied up in that time of year from Thanksgiving through Valentines Day or so. . . My mother’s birthday is in the beginning of February, otherwise, maybe I’d call it sooner.

Trying to set aside all of the negative things that come to mind. . . & trying to set aside the happy things that make me cry because I miss them (& my mom) so damn much,  there are two traditions of the holiday season that I have never turned sour towards. The first of which is dinner with family, usually at my grandmother’s house. The whole family — or at least all of the family in the state — would gather at my grandmother’s house (or my great-grandmother’s house, before she passed away) on every major holiday. I always remember it being such a good time. As I got a bit older, on Christmas Day, in particular, we would wake up & open presents by the Christmas tree, then take our showers & get dressed & go to my grandmother’s house afterwards.

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By the time we’d arrive to grandma’s house, she would be so busy cooking & making sure everything was ready for all of us that she would still be in her pajamas! Inevitably, she’d make a comment, muttering about how she was still in her PJ’s & she’d seem so upset by it. SO, one year, since my mother always made sure to give us new pajamas for Christmas each year, I took my shower after opening gifts & I put on my new pajamas. My mother started to give me a hard time, but I told her it was so that grandma wouldn’t feel bad about being the only one in her pajamas at Christmas dinner. From then on out, every year, I went to Christmas dinner in my pajamas.

Now that I am a mom, my boys get new pajamas from me for Christmas every year & they probably always will. We no longer have holiday dinners at my grandmother’s house. . . I think it just got to be too much for her. Plus, frankly, my mother dying — her only daughter — probably has something to do with it too. Mom helped grandma in the kitchen quite a bit too. I wonder if mom would’ve taken over those holiday dinners if she were still alive. . . It’s something I’ve always wanted to do for my family & I’m just now starting to get to a point in my life where I might be able to start to do that, at least on a small-scale. In fact, there is a chance I will get to do a Thanksgiving dinner for a couple of my cousins, one of my uncles, my sister, my nephews, one of my sons, & of course, the handsome husband this year. We will see. .  .

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Christmas, on the other hand. . . Well, it’s still hard. I haven’t put up a tree in years. I’ve done it just a small handful of times in the nearly 16 years since my mother passed away. . . But each time it was more for the benefit of my sons. . . &, frankly, it’s quite hard for me to pull out all of my Christmas decorations — most of which were made by my mother. Maybe one day. . .

What’s one of your favorite traditions? It could be holiday-related or anything else, really. Share in the comments below, email me at [email protected], or connect with me on Facebook. 😉

This post was written in participation of the Blog-tember Challenge hosted by Brave Love blog. Today’s prompt was, “Tell us about a favorite tradition. It could be a family tradition or from a holiday, university, you-name-it. What makes it so special?” Click here to see what others had to say.

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Reta Jayne

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By Reta Jayne

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I am Reta Jayne. I help women learn to love themselves again (or more!) through no-bull discussions about mental health, self-care, & more. Click the email icon to subscribe to & communicate with me via email.

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Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
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