What are your holiday plans?


Church“New Traditions,” is something a friend said multiple times as it was nearing the holidays the first year after Phil passed. Of course his absence was felt no matter what I was doing and who I was with but thinking of new traditions helped change my focus.

I think the thing that’s helped me most in handling the holidays each year has been planning ahead. Whether it was dinner at a restaurant with friends, visiting family, attending holiday events or staying home to read, I made plans. I know that if I just try to avoid thinking about it and make no plans then when a holiday roll around and I have nothing to do, I’ll get depressed.

Even some times, like one year on his birthday, I just wanted to be alone so I planned to stay home and grieve. I didn’t just let it happen. I planned it. I’ve always thought that if I’m gonna have a pity party I’m gonna have cake and balloons! Metaphorically, anyway. On those grieving days I planned what I wanted to eat, watched the video from his funeral and listened to the recording of the friends who spoke. Yeah, a lot of people will think that’s morbid so you may not want to tell them what you’re doing. “I have plans” wasn’t a lie. I had planned to spend the day in solitude. I looked through old photographs and spent time with his memory. I cried, took a bubble bath and put on fresh pajamas then went to bed feeling cleansed. Sometimes focused grieving is like cleaning a wound—it hurts while you’re doing it but helps with healing.

Another way to ‘escape’ alone is to read or watch movies. A friend who passed away last year used to spend the week between Christmas and New Years seeing every newly released movie. That always sounded like a fun tradition, although I never took the time to see that many movies. Setting aside ‘movie time’ for films on TV or DVR is another good tradition that can work for family or people seeking solitude. And it’s less expensive than going to the theatre.

In my single days I worked with a young woman who had no nearby family. She always spent her holidays volunteering to serve food, deliver gifts to hospitals or serve the community in some other way. It’s amazing how focusing on someone else’s needs and pain helps to relieve our own, even if it’s just a bit.

After Phil’s passing I eagerly said, “Yes!” when a single girlfriend invited me to join her and another friend for a holiday house and concert early in December. I made a point to say, “Yes!” to invitations from friends even if it wasn’t something I would have normally chosen to do. Living in a city, and even when I lived in a small town, there are numerous holiday activities throughout the season. Before I married Phil, I worked retail and had no time to enjoy these events. When we were married and I was no longer in retail, we were always busy with friends and family. Now that I’m alone I look for holiday events that I haven’t done before and find someone to go with me.

Holiday tours of homes, Christmas light displays, A Christmas Carol playing at the theatre, holiday concerts at area churches, there’s something for every budget and interest. It’s also fun to ride around in nice neighborhoods and see the Christmas decorations like my family did when we were kids.

I’ve done many of these things during holidays the past few years. Sometimes alone, sometimes with family or friends. Every bit of holiday cheer I participate in makes the holiday season a bit less painful. Now that several years have passed, I don’t need those grieving days any more. I still miss him but I’ve created new traditions and am always looking for new adventures.

What about you?

  • Are you planning some new traditions for the holidays?
  • Is there some way you plan to honor the memory of your loved one during the season?
  • Is there a favorite holiday tradition that you plan to carry forward or update?

I’d love to hear from you. You can comment on this blog.


6 Responses to “What are your holiday plans?”

  1. Thank you for this, Myra. This has been one of the hardest years for my family. My niece died on March 13th and was followed by my father on the 14th. My entire family is dreading the holidays, but no one more than my mother and sister. My parents were together for 64 years and this will be their first Christmas apart. I’ve been feeling my way along trying to help her and your suggestions will be of great help. Thank you, again.

    • Thank’s for your comment. Yes, this will be a difficult holiday season. Maybe you can find something that your mom and sister will enjoy that’ll be festive but different. I pray that you and your family are surrounded with love and support this holiday season.

  2. survivormomma27 said

    Holidays are still tough. After my husband died, we just decided we would stay home and eat junk food, watch movies. One year, we went to an amusement park. Last year, we were with family. So, I’ve just sort of gone with what the kids feel like. Our old Thanksgiving would be turkey and football.
    No new traditions here. I just want to avoid the old ones.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I understand wanting to avoid the old traditions. My family lost my Dad six months before my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My sister got a divorce the year before that. Now it’s just Mama, my sister and her adult son. We go to restaurants on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wouldn’t have been what either of our husbands would have enjoyed but restaurants are decorated and festive and the people there are dressed up and happy. It feels better than trying to do the traditional holidays at home. I hope you and your kids will find some new traditions that you enjoy…even if it’s junk food and movies!

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