The traditions of the holiday season always leaves me feeling more connected to family. For me, the traditions transcend the miles and milestones.
Whether its unpacking the Christmas decorations my Grandmother made or hanging my childhood stocking or spending the day baking cookies, it all reminds me of holidays gone by and makes me smile for the holidays yet to come.
This holiday season, remembering the loved ones in our life that are no longer with us can make us pause, make us cry, make us smile and make us laugh. A subtle smile and far-off daze of remembrance or a more deliberate moment of remembrance can help warm our hearts and souls this holiday season.
My top ten suggestions for honoring your loved ones memories.
Tell Stories. As you unpack handmade decorations, share the story behind it and if possible make a connection to the present. My grandmother crochet these snowmen long, long ago. Now that my kids and I have completed some of our own crocheting projects the connection between the past and present is more poignant. Create a Keepsake Scrapbook like the one seen here on View Along the Way. It’s such a wonderful record of the past. I really should make the time to complete one for my family. How often do we forget why or how we acquired an ornament or decoration?
Place a wreath at the grave — or in my case, have your sister place a wreath for the family and send everyone a photo.
Use special dishes or serving wear. I have old mini-cupcake tins that were my Grandmothers, Santa appetizer knives and fast-food wine glasses that all make a special appearance around the holidays.
Light a candle. I’ll admit, I have very few candles adorning my home anymore so this is not a tradition for myself and my family but I wanted to include it as I know it is a tradition for many other families. Sitting by candle light always seems to have a calming effect on my breath; unless you have children that like to insist that their current heavy breathing is indeed their normal breath and you have to keep relighting the candles.
Release a lantern. Once in my life have I released a Chinese lantern. My hands were nearly numb, my nose was running and I loved every minute of it. Being part of a larger lantern lighting festival with hundreds being released is on my bucket list.
Watching old movies on Christmas Eve. Whether it’s very old home movies or simply those from when your own family was young, seeing and hearing the sounds of past holidays is simply wonderful. If you don’t have old movies, look back through old pictures.
Make a special food or drink. My Grandma used to serve only hors D’ouvre’s for Christmas Eve dinner. My husband insists on making Eggnog, although it always ends in extreme discomfort. Smell can evoke such strong emotions, so don’t be surprised if memories come flooding back.
Create or hang a memorial ornament. While I have several ornaments that are very near and dear to my heart, I haven’t created a memorial ornament (you can check out Pinterest for ideas). Hallmark voice recording ornaments can be such keepsakes. (But I will recommend creating a separate digital recording for safe-keeping as I have been heart-broken to have some of my voice recorded ornaments stop working).
Make a donation of time or money. If your loved one had a special charity that they themselves used to donate time or money to, continue the tradition in their name.
Make a toast or include them in a prayer. Bring their name and memory to the Christmas celebration. Make a toast to them for what they have given you or include them by name in your prayer.