Our holiday tradition begins at the cemetery right after Thanksgiving. We travel north to what I call "the country." We arrive at a very quaint, old and most angelic cemetery. It has mismatched, broken and scattered headstones some of which date into the 1700s. It is filled with old trees, fallen leaves and one deep well pump for getting water. It is here we greet our oldest daughter, Stephanie, with a pink/purple grave blanket. We laid her body to rest here when she was just 11 years old.
We greet her with love, hope and joy for another holiday season without her earthly presence. We tell her how much we miss her and love her. We sit for a moment on the bench her father picked out for her plot so her grandfather could have a place to sit while he was there. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever encountered. While we are there, we breathe in the fresh, crisp air and feel the peace only God can give. We take a moment to celebrate not only life, but death, too, for it is only in death that we can fully experience life.
We take this moment and silence ourselves before our God and thank him for Stephanie and all the others who have gone before us. We thank him for the birth of his son and for the peace and the hope he continues to give us to live this life as joyfully as we can. It is then we are ready to begin the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, which we fully enjoy. We decorate the house, bake cookies, shop, attend parties, give to others, go to church and celebrate with family and friends. We enjoy our two other children, Jacob and Kelsey, spoiling them and loving them, knowing too well that these moments are fleeting. We create memories full of love and hope for them that they will be able to pass down to their children. We love them, as we are taught, with unconditional love. We give them the hope we have been given so that they too may experience the joy of celebrating life even in the midst of sorrow and death.
How do you remember those you've lost during the holiday season?