Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 17, 2007
Grandma won't be here this Christmas
But faith, traditions and memories will establish new holiday rituals
By LISA PETSCHE
One of the new things is a special angel ornament on our tree, in memory of Grandma.
The sight of gifts cascading out from under the tree never fails to take the kids' breath away when they enter Grandma's living room on Christmas Day. They crawl around to check the names on each decoratively wrapped item and play guessing games.
After dinner, the eagerly awaited gift exchange takes place. It takes some time for everything to be opened, admired and passed around. By then we're ready for dessert, enjoying the treats made in Grandma's kitchen, along with an assortment of nuts and candies. Afterwards, the adults chat and clean up while the kids play with their gifts and each other. Everyone is contentedly exhausted by the time the evening wraps up.
Unfortunately, last Christmas turned out to be the last one like this. Grandma died unexpectedly a short time later.
We've made it through almost a whole year now without her, including various special occasions: Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving and numerous birthdays and anniversaries. Christmas is the final frontier - and the one we've been most anxious about.
It's been hard figuring out how to approach it. Our celebrations will involve a mix of old and new.
One of the new things is a special angel ornament on our tree, in memory of Grandma. It joins the angel memorializing the baby we lost a number of years ago.
We "inherited" Grandma's artificial tree, and made a place for it in our family room. The kids insisted we still get a real one, though; it's in the usual corner of the living room.
The location of our extended family gathering will be different, and will probably rotate from year to year. Dinner will be buffet-style, since none of us had space in our home to accommodate Grandma's dining room table. The usual Christmas desserts, made just the way Grandma taught us, will be served on her special dishes.
Afterwards, we'll look through photos from past Christmases, many taken last year thanks to my sister-in-law, who was eager to try out her new digital camera. We'll reminisce about the good times and, I trust, experience gratitude for them even in the midst of our grief.
There's comfort to be found in carrying on traditions and recalling happy memories.
We'll also draw comfort from this poem a friend gave me, My First Christmas in Heaven (author unknown): "So have a Merry Christmas, And wipe away that tear, Remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year."
What more could you wish for someone you love?
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.