Christmas is About Who Is Here

Christmas is About Who Is Here

One of the most difficult things about the holidays for me is the number of relatives that I have lost through the years.

I heard a quote around this Thanksgiving that stated “You have to celebrate who is here at the table”.

It’s easier said than done, yes I have my wonderful young son who his having his first Christmas but his presence (and he reminds me so much of other passed relatives), it’s hard to something move on.

Just in the last 15 years I’ve lost my father, my eldest brother, my only uncle, my nephew, my maternal grandmother and several cousins. It’s painful some days when it’s not the holidays much less this time of year.

It’s easy to get caught up in a memory or hear a song or see a movie and think of them and that’s okay.

My dad’s been gone a year and a half and despite people telling me I’d no longer dream about him, I still do, just earlier this week. And it was simple, he and I having our favorite BBQ rib dinner.

I think the key is not to get overwhelmed or obsessed with it. And that’s hard too, my brother and I speak weekly about “our dad”, and its good healthy conversation. We discuss how he would handle situations we have now (especially car issues since he was a master mechanic), and what he would say.

I’ve gotten to the place where I’m not crying all of the time (it took a year with my dad), and I can have “happy memories” and not try to recreate everything.
Same with my uncle (he’s been gone 14 years), I was graciously given his music collection (thanks Dolores), and I can play his holiday music and think about his great holiday parties but not be sad.

I’ve even mixed in his music with my new Christmas favorites for a really cool holiday playlist of tunes.

But the thing here is not forget the people who are here and we need to celebrate them and sometimes make new traditions.

I think in the past five years my immediate family has changed Christmas venues three times (including one dinner at a now closed Chinese restaurant almost like in the movie a Christmas Story), so we have kept it fresh.

That’s huge to have some changes and do things differently whether intended or not.

There were years in the past when we concentrated on who wasn’t here and it got real sorrowful and you may have a sad moment or two, we are human and this is an emotional time of year.

But with change there are also new people to celebrate with, marriages bring in new folks, marriages often bring babies, even job changes bring new friends. I’ve literally had all of that personally in the last few years.

Plus a big thing with my wife’s family is having some traditions move to other people’s houses, so you have different venues.

I’m not saying who have to forget about your people who have gone on, my wife’s family light a candle for their sister who is gone and they have a stocking for her, that’s great.

I’ve found this time of year is for celebration of life, of those who gather with us and we don’t forget those who are gone but it’s all in celebration.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email

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