I opened my notebook and began writing down the names of my family members. After I penned my husband and children’s names, I paused. The next one on my list would have been my mom.
It’s not like this was news to me; my mom passed away in March. But it’s those little moments where sorrow washes over you. Though I’m grateful that my grief has had eight months to settle a bit, I knew Christmas would present its own challenges.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
When I met my husband, I learned that his family celebrated every holiday in some way. Even St. Patrick’s Day. My mom, in contrast, only kept decorations for one: Christmas.
Christmas was my mom’s holiday. She thrilled at buying Christmas presents for her family. It brought her a joy like none other.
As an adult, I thrilled at buying for her. She showed genuine gratitude with every gift (even if I found the unopened Pampered Chef batter bowl and food chopper after she passed away). For her, receiving gifts never was about the gifts. It was about the giver. She put such thought into every present she purchased, and she believed the same to be true about others.
The Joy Tree
At church on Sunday, I walked to the Joy Tree, intending on picking up one “angel” representing a child in need. Instead, the only ones left were bundles of names. Each group represented children from one family, put together so they would receive similar gifts. I saw one bundle with three boys close to my children’s ages.
I hadn’t anticipated taking more than one “angel.”
Then it occurred to me.
My mom would have adopted an “angel” or two if she were here.
And I had a blank spot in my Christmas list (and budget) that would have normally gone to my mom.
Filling the Empty Space
I took these three boys’ angels off the tree, as my mom would have done. My children and I will go and buy for these boys, and I will make sure my kids know what we’re doing and why, and that Meme always did this as well. Not only are we buying for these children, but we are doing it in memory of their Meme.
It’s what Mom would do.
If this is your first Christmas without your loved one, my heart aches for you. It seems the whole world is full of joy and you are left with one gaping hole. I hope perhaps what I have decided to do, to honor my mom’s memory, inspires you. I recommend thinking of the causes that were close to your loved one’s heart. The Joy Tree is just one example, but there’s also the Gideon Ministry, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Compassion International, or local causes. I challenge you to take the amount you spent on your loved one last year and put it toward a cause they supported.
If you do that — or have done this in the past — please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear!