This Holiday Thing

I swore I wouldn’t do this. This holiday thing. This grief thing. But, today, after a weekend of holiday memorial services honoring those who have come through our funeral home this year, here I am.

It was an innocent chat. She asked me something about Thanksgiving. I said something about my grandparents. For a brief moment, I froze mentally as I tried to ignore the tear threatening to well up in my eye, I found myself thinking,

“I swore I wouldn’t do this. This holiday thing. This grief thing. I swore.” 

But here I am.

I’m not going to ignore the fact that my grandfather passed away this year. I’m also not going to ignore the fact that his loss means something for my family. It means many things, actually. It means that time keeps going. It means we’ll have an empty seat at the table this Christmas–the one with the tennis balls on the chair legs put there so he could get in and out of it more easily. It means there will be stories and laughter and, knowing him, a housefly or two darting around just to remind us of so many good memories with him. Someone will have to sit on the couch all wrapped up in a blanket and ask me how my money’s holding out because he won’t be there to do it. His stocking will stay in the box. He won’t slip me a $100 bill when nobody’s looking. We’ll keep missing him. And that’s ok because he was a big part of our lives and I know we’ll never forget him.

This is a special season for all of us. Let’s not forget those who are grieving. I even hesitate to say, “those who are grieving,” because in many ways, all of us are grieving someone.

Whether it’s a recent loss or a not so recent loss–let’s not forget.

I challenge you to honor that empty spot at the table. Fill it with someone or something new and different. Just don’t ignore it. Listen as stories are told and re-told. Lend a hand to someone you know is hurting. Don’t fear silence, or tears, or even laughter.

If grief shows up this Christmas, don’t be afraid of it. Honor it, remember it. And keep making memories.

I love you, Pop.

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