This post was inspired by The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith, memoir about how random acts of kindness transformed her family’s bereavement and grief during the holidays. Join From Left to Write on October 28th as we discuss The 13th Gift. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
I knew when I signed up to review this book that it might be a bit hard for me to read, I think the one thing that allowed me to actually sign up was the fact that it is based on a true story, I knew there wouldn’t be some unrealistic story line or fairytale ending. That being said, this is hands down one of the best books I have read via my relationship with From Left to Write. If you are feeling a little down with the holiday season approaching, please read this!
In case you are new to the blog, From Left to Write bloggers don’t write traditional reviews, we take a piece of the book we are inspired by and write a post from that theme.
Grief is something that I unfortunately have a decent amount of experience with. My maternal grandfather passed away shortly after the new year when I was very young, and a few months after that, right around Easter, my maternal grandmother also passed. They lived in California and I was in Vermont so while I have some really great memories, I didn’t have a close relationship due to distance.
This past holiday season was incredibly hard for me, it’s no secret that I had a miscarriage last September, but while everyone was getting excited for everything holiday related, I was finding it hard to get off the couch and put up any decorations. I wandered aimlessly through the stores. I bought B any toy he pointed out that he wanted (always a bad idea). My MIL ended up coming and helping with the tree and the decorating, and I didn’t want B to ever have any memories where Christmas didn’t have this magical spirit about it.
I decided I needed to pull myself out of it, I needed to surround myself with loved ones and to make these wonderful memories with my family. While B wouldn’t be getting a sibling, he would be getting involved in these traditions that he could one day help me show to a sibling.
The second was creating trays of cookies for our neighbors. This is something that my neighborhood used to do every holiday season and my sister and I loved it. I knew when I was an adult I wanted to continue this tradition, so I did. Baking makes me happy, delivering delicious treats was my way of passing along that feeling!
The last thing I did was host a cookie swap at my house for my girlfriends (and their kids if they have them). This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I started when B was 5 months old, and I hope to continue for many many years to come.
Although it seems like cookies helped me with my grief, and I will fully admit that I ate entirely to many last holiday season, there was also plenty of time spend with our families and closest friends. Closing myself into my house was not something I should’ve been doing, and I am grateful for the people who made sure I didn’t.
These things didn’t change the fact that I was sad and grieving, but it helped remind me of the important things and people in my life, that they were still here, and while the loss was incredibly hard and sad, there will always be people there for you to pick you up when you are down. Let them pick you up.
What are some of your holiday traditions?