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The Ghosts of Holidays Past and Gratitude for Holidays Present

CandleMaybe I should have paid more attention to that surprising flash of anger I felt as my friend from abroad mentioned missing her family at the holidays, or how my back hurt after that remark.   If I’d also considered how tired I’ve been despite plenty of rest, or how little I’ve felt inspired to blog or meditate, I might not have been surprised when the tears arrived this morning.

I’ve really enjoyed connecting with friends the past couple of weeks and sharing the love of this season.  At a conscious level I’ve had a great time, yet now I wonder how I missed the signs that my annual holiday sadness was bubbling up again unconsciously.

Nineteen years ago, the fun holiday gatherings and traditions of my childhood ended suddenly with my mother’s death.  As Mom reunited with Dad, the few who had been part of Thanksgivings and Christmases for years moved away and have now passed on themselves.

Somehow I always thought there would be a ‘next year’.   I took this loss hard, but as a newlywed, shifted my focus to my husband and young stepchildren.  For years afterward we co-created new holiday traditions which lasted until they grew up and moved out and we later divorced.

The past few years without birth or marital families, I have been welcomed by dear friends and family into their holiday gatherings.   As wonderful as those festivities may be, the holiday traditions of my past are gone.  I may not cry as often, but each year the pain surfaces at some unsuspecting moment…like getting ready for work this morning.

I see now how that flash of anger was jealousy that no airplane exists to take me to my family for the holidays, and no amount of money could bring them here.   I ran out of ‘next year’s and nothing can bring them back.  I know their soul is here with me, but their soul isn’t singing carols or eating turkey or nagging me.  In that space there is only silence.

My intention in writing this is not to depress.  Rather, may this be a small voice amidst all the Hallmark cards and idealized family movies urging you to see the beauty in your dysfunctional and somewhat annoying family.   They are our greatest teachers, and none will ever replace them.  When they irritate you the most, hug them the tightest.  See all the love being given the only way they know to show it.   Spend time together while you can.  Forgive often.  Breathe in patience and know that we only have them for a blink of the eye, and nothing will ever fill the silence that remains when they are gone.  Soon enough, each of us finds ourselves reinventing our holidays in their absence. Beautiful new traditions and relationships are ever emerging as holidays past shift into memory.  Gratitude for holidays present co-exists with ghosts of holidays past.

I love and miss you Mom and Dad.  In these 2 months most of all…your birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, your anniversary, and New Year’s Eve.  Thanks for all your love!  You live in my heart where we’ll always be together.

Namaste and much love,

Sheryl Sitts

Founder ~ Journey of Possibilities

Sheryl’s Blog


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