holiday memories

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I miss my grandmother, Grammy. She’s no longer with us. I miss the smell of her perfume. I miss the comfort of her lap. She was a wonderful writer of books. I get my love of writing from her. I had biscuits & gravy this morning from a local cafe. It made me miss my mom’s biscuits from scratch & her country gravy. I miss my grandfather, Doc. He’s in heaven. His hands were huge & he had a desk fit for a king. As a doctor, he saved a lot of lives. I remember being ill with a cold, when I was staying overnight, he tied his warmest scarf around my neck & propped my pillows up. He said a little prayer for me to feel better & I swear it worked almost instantly, almost. I miss my dad & step mom. When we talk it’s almost as if not a single day has passed between us, almost. My beloved sister is in the Keys. We are so close. I remember the way we bonded as youngsters. If you saw our baby pictures, you would not be able to tell the difference between us. I remember the excitement I felt when we shared a room on College Street. I was a tag along & she let me be just that. She would braid my hair & we danced to Michael Jackson on the hard wood floors. We collected tadpoles at Woodward Park & watched them grow & change in the aquarium on our porch. We lived outdoors. We spent most of our days on adventures with our neighborhood friends. I miss the easy days when you could ride your bike & would get dirty on purpose until dark & dinner was already made.
The holidays are not happy for all, as some people are estranged from their parents. Some don’t talk to certain family members. Some choose not to go home for the holidays. & for some, they didn’t choose at all, but rather their loved ones were taken from them, stolen much too early, & they have to get through the holidays without them. Their hearts break a little. It’s anything but MERRY & bright.
I have a few neighbors, older ladies. Their husbands are long gone & I wonder who will be ringing in the new year with them. I wonder how they are doing these days without their husbands. Their houses are beautifully lit with multi-colored lights & glittering reindeer. I wonder if the inside of their homes are as cheery, too, or if that decor is just for all of us to marvel at & assure us that all is well & dandy & fine. I want to embrace each of those ladies- want to be their companion.
I can picture my friend, for whom lost her mom to cancer 9 years ago during the holidays, holding pictures of her mom, clinging to memories of the two of them bonding at their family summer cottage, reflecting on memories & past family traditions that were special & beautiful- the kind of memories only a mother & daughter could create. The fact that my dear friend can’t hug her mom, can’t call her, or hear her voice is so hard for me to swallow. I can’t quite wrap my mind around that. So many people around me cling to their living loved ones & so desperately wish they could see the ones they’ve lost, all too soon, if only one more time.
We shall be ever so gentle with all the people we encounter, as we don’t know what they must be going through. Be kinder than needed. Treat them as though they are good friends. Smile. Maybe it’s not what you say that counts.
The greatest gift is meeting people where they are by sitting with them & allowing them to talk through their feelings. I don’t think it is about fancy words & jargon. What matters is that you showed up in whatever way you were able. That is where healing takes place. Your being is what is needed. Human connection. We are wired for human connection.
Brene Brown uses a swamp as a metaphor for getting through the hard times, & for some- the holidays are hard. Before we walk in that messy swamp, we put on our galoshes & we make our way through the sludgy swamp (we don’t walk around it, we walk through it). We make it, slowly but surely, to the other side, not without stumbling or getting messy, but we make it. You don’t have to live there, just recognize your feelings- honor them & move forward. Help them to the other side. Hope lives on the other side. The two most powerful words are the words, ‘me too.’ Empathy has great power. Be a listening ear to those around you that may not have the familial support. Call them. Text them. Send them a card. Take 10 minutes to be there if only to help in a teeny tiny way to aid in healing the open wounds. Hug them & look them in the eye. May you always know how much you are loved, during the holiday season, & beyond.
May you always know that those near & far live in your heart & no one can take that away from you. May you remember those you have lost & remember how they made you laugh until your belly ached. May you remember all the celebrations & heartfelt memories you created together. May you be assured & know that you will reunite, someday, & that they are always with you. Always. & to those beloved friends & relatives that are living & are here: embrace them, call them, take the time to see them in whatever way you are comfortable. Make the rest of your life the best of your life. Revel in it- laugh & play & drink & be MERRY & enjoy your life! Celebrate & take not a single moment for granted! Because the moment is truly all we have.

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