General Question

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

How to celebrate the holidays.

Asked by Raggedy_Ann (455points) December 4th, 2008

My mother passed away on March 21, 2008, so this is the first Christmas without her. While my father, sister, brother-in-law, neice, nephew along with my husband and sons will be together on Christmas how are we supposed to “celebrate”? I do plan on baking some things that she would normally have made. But I don’t feel much like “celebrating”.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

steelmarket's avatar

Don’t feel pressured to celebrate. It seems that you need to grieve and heal more. Perhaps instead of celebrating the season you can “celebrate” your mom by cooking some of her dishes, listening to some of her favorite music. Spend some time with your whole family looking through your family photos. Have family members share funny memories about your mom. It is OK to laugh and cry at the same time.

cak's avatar

I’m sorry for your loss. Understandably, this is going to be an up and down holiday for you and your family.

Do what feels comfortable and right. I love the ideas that steelmarket mentioned, above.

When my grandmother died, we added a new ornament to the tree, for her. It’s personalized and goes in the same place that the other “special” ornaments go – and we celebrate her. My father was trying to be stoic, but the holidays did get to him.

Remember the happiness she brought to the holidays and embrace those moments.

Best wishes to you and yours.

bythebay's avatar

The year we lost my Dad in October, getting ready for the holidays was like torture. Every decoration, every song, every single thing reminded us of us him. It was unbelievably tough. We struggled through the holidays with heavy hearts and cried a lot. But through the tears came happy memories and lots of laughter. Now, several years later there are still tears (I’m crying as I write this). We miss him terribly as you will continue to miss your Mom. But we honor his memory, we talk about him, we laugh and remember that above all else; he would want us to be happy. Find your joy in the small things and remember that you loved her for a lifetime…it’s ok to miss her that long, too. I’m sorry for your loss.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

Thank you all for your suggestions. I have purchased two angel ornaments (my mom liked angels) for my sons to place on the tree as a “rememberance” of her. These are their ornaments to keep and take when they leave home (they are currently 13 and 9). We did this last year when my grandmother passed aways. For my grandmother we did cardinals since this was her favorite bird. As I mentioned above, I do plan on baking somethings that she would normally make.

Judi's avatar

Make it a “Memorial Day.” It is the first in may years where you will sit around and remember your mothers contribution to the family. This year will be bittersweet, but as the years go by you will look forward to the days when you sit around the dinner table and remember the fun times past that when mom would do, “this or that.” You’ll have stories to pass on to next generations, and eventually you will look forward to Christmas and sharing fond memories. Making one of her favorite recipes in her honor could be quite healing. I am so sorry for your loss.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I agree with steelmarket and Judi. Have pictures of your mom displayed, talk to her as if she’s there. And she is still there in spirit, because you all miss her so, and want her to be there Capture memories and traditions. Christmas is about a celebration of a birth, and if you approach the holiday as a combination of traditional Christmas and celebrating your mom’s birth and what it means to everyone in the family, then you’ve captured the meaning of the season.

cwilbur's avatar

Celebration is not just about being happy. It’s about marking the day and what it signifies.

You lost your mother, so the holiday is not going to be the same, and it’s probably not going to be happy. But don’t take that as a reason not to prepare a big meal and get together with family: that’s exactly how you should observe the holidays.

SoapChef's avatar

These are all great suggestions. I wish I would have been able to tap the collective when my Dad passed away on the 22nd of December in 2002. Needless to say, we did not have a normal holiday that year. I can’t really even remember much about it. I think the family was just numb. The good part was when we had his memorial on his birthday the next April. We went out on a sternwheeler in the river and tossed white tulips (his favorite) and peanut shells in the water, along with his ashes.

cookieman's avatar

Raggedy Ann: I am truly sorry for your loss. You too bythebay.

I also lost my Dad in October. My Aunt died in May and my Uncle (her husband) last week. My mother has also withdrawn from our lives (long story). So I know what you’re going through.

steelmarket, Judi, and AlfredaPrufrock have the right idea.

Ultimately, I feel we are celebrating the fact the we are still here, alive and well. Able to give and receive love. To squander that gift is disrespectful to who/whatever gave us this life to live. As hard as it is, we must continue to give of ourselves and share time with others in our life. Otherwise we will die ourselves – but from within.

This American Life ran a piece recently in their “Home Alone” episode discussing people who die alone. There are county investigators whose sole job is to piece together a person’s life so someone (anyone) they once knew can claim their body and arrange a burial. In many cases no relative or friend can be found. Not because they had no relatives or friends, but because they withdrew from life many years ago.

In this one county alone, 1900 unclaimed bodies were buried en masse at their annual mass burial service. Only 10 people attended the service. All were county employees.

I, for one, do not wish to die a number. So pass the cookies Raggedy Ann. I’m sure your mother’s recipe is yummy.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

@cprevite: Thank you for your thoughts and words. I too, do not want to die as a number. Mom’s recipe’s were always yummy so hopefully I don’t mess them up.

Judi's avatar

Even if your DO mess them up, that will give you something to laugh about. Nobody does it like mom did!

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

@judi-so true. I figured that out in April when I tried to make a cake like what she used to make when we made our First Communion. Didn’t turn out anything like hers would have.

bythebay's avatar

But Raggedy you made it with love!

Judi's avatar

Even messing up mom’s recipes is part of the healing.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

@judi and bythebay- I know. But it still doesn’t help that she’s not here (physically) to celebrate with us. I know spiritually she’s here.

bythebay's avatar

You know Raggedy, nothing will fill that physical loss. It’s much like any other struggle, just keep moving forward, take it slowly and be kind to yourself. Remember everyone in your family is mourning a different loss; mother, wife, grandmother. You all can share the loss but each of you will pass through this in different ways. Just rely on each other for strength. Cry when you need to – smile when you can.

Judi's avatar

I know raggedy. I have suffered a lot of loss in my life, but my mom at 82 is still around. I have often said that I can handle a lot of things but I don’t think I can handle loosing my mom. I sometimes wonder if God allows our parents to get old and sick to make it easier for us to say goodbye. I have a hard time even considering the thought of loosing my rock, my mommy.

bythebay's avatar

Raggedy, I’m not sure why but there is a song that used to always make me feel stronger. Wherever you are – by Celeste Prince. It might be her voice or her words, but it made me feel at peace. Perhaps there’s some music or poetry you can turn to to bring you back to center again?

cdwccrn's avatar

Dear friends, we all carry a loss as we enter the holidays. Perhaps that is what makes joy so sweet-it comes the morning after weaping.
If you are a person of faith, your family might be blessed by a bereavement holiday service. Look into them in your local churches. I will be leading one in Indianapolis on the 14th if you’d like to come. Blessings to all of you.

Jeruba's avatar

@Raggedy_Ann, you and I spent that Easter weekend grieving the very same loss. My sympathies.

I think you might want to do some things the same, explicitly acknowledging her absence and respecting those memories. But also try to add at least one new thing, something that everyone will enjoy (whether or not it starts a new tradition) but that doesn’t have any poignant associations about it, that doesn’t speak of loss. For example, rent a Christmas movie and watch it together, serve something from a new recipe, join in a carol sing, go out and visit a display of lights—something that won’t evoke any bittersweet memories but just honor the season and the joy of being together with loved ones.

Your memories of your mother—and of all your other family members, including those still living—are part of the treasure of Christmas, but the holiday should not be funereal. Make it mostly about those who are present, reflecting on what they keep in their hearts but not focusing on grieving and loss.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

@Jeruba-My sympathies to you. And thank you for your thoughts. My dad will actually be here on the 23rd, weather permitting as we live in Northern MN and my dad in Western ND. We plan on going to look at Christmas lights that evening.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther