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Bittersweet Holidays

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If you have experienced loss and are anything like me, the holidays can sometimes seem a little bitter sweet. The loss of my mother and grandmother within about a year of each other, along with other family losses, has left many empty seats at the holiday table. Grandma’s (aka Momma Dickens’) holiday table with her signature sweet potato casserole, turkey, ham, greens and potato salad – you name it! -is no longer the go-to place anymore.

Each holiday, like clockwork, we would all pile up at Momma Dickens’ house. We each would be assigned some task by her to prepare the table, wash the dishes, slice the vegetables, etc., all under her watchful eye. Usually one of the menfolk was assigned to go get some ice, which we always forgot to purchase in advance. Momma Dickens helped us learn how to cook by giving us direction on how much and what kind of seasoning to use. At the table was my mom, sister, grandmother, aunts, uncle, cousins and friends. The day usually ended with full stomachs, jokes, laughter, television and loud debates over whose football team would win.

This was out our family holiday “normal”. But it is no longer just as it was. Many “seats” are empty and the main cook is now probably cooking in heaven.  

If you have experienced losses, your normal can take a drastic turn, especially at holidays and special occasions.

What do you do when your normal has significantly changed? You must create a new normal. My new normal around the holidays consists of requesting invites to my friends and family members homes for fellowship and a meal, sponsoring my own events, and sometimes foregoing cooking all, and spending fun quality time with family and friends at a nice restaurant. 

I have also found myself participating in more acts of community service, and helping those less fortunate. Giving of your time treasure or talents is a wonderful way to experience the fullness that is meant for all of us, especially at this time of year when we take time to give thanks for the blessings we have, and focus on the foundation of our faith and family values. 

So, this time of year, take some time to honor, love, and remember your loved ones, giving expressions of gratitude for their lives and what they have deposited in your life. Give unconditional love and acceptance to those who are currently in your life. Be purposeful in reaching out to be a blessing to others, so you can spread a little love and joy in someone else’s life. In return, you will experience the comfort, fullness and joy intended for you.  

In loving memory of those who used to be at the table:

  • Momma Dickens
  • Mom
  • Uncle Duck.
  • Christina
  • Tony
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