Christmas is an especially difficult holiday when there is an empty chair at the table following the death of a loved one. The first Christmas after my lovely mother died we felt a deep sadness seeing that empty chair.
Instead of jumping right into the festivities and ignoring that a special person was not present, I asked everyone around the table to think of a fun memory or special attribute about Mom/Grandma. I invited them to share, if they wanted to. As family members shared their stories, there was much laughter and love and joy around the table. It felt for a few minutes that Mom was in our midst.
As part of that year’s celebration, I also gave each family member—including the young grandchildren—a delicate cross with Mom’s name, birthdate, and death-date engraved on it. I encouraged all the family to hang the cross on the tree each Christmas as a way to remember Grandma.
Now, ten years later, I still see the cross on my tree and smile and thank God for the lovely woman who graced our lives.