This Christmas will be our tenth Christmas without my dad. He loved the holidays. He loved cooking and hosting and watching us open gifts and making big breakfasts and just sitting and enjoying the company. The holidays were not lost on him. He knew they were a special time.
Everyday is hard but having so many good memories associated with the holidays made it harder without him.
My parents tree was always covered in a hodgepodge of ornaments we had made through the years, memorabilia gathered along the way. My mom didn’t put the tree up that first year my dad was gone but I longed to see those ornaments I’d seen my entire life at the holidays. And I longed to have a TANGIBLE memory of my dad. I knew he wasn’t there… but I needed something tangible to see, to be out in the open, to be a symbol of his presence.
And so I made a memory tree. I’ve put it up every year since he’s been gone. It’s just a small pre-lit tree decorated with all of his favorite things. Diet Coke, cars, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Longhorns and family. The bells at the top are the wedding bells that sat on my mom and dads wedding cake in 1972, the little stuffed stockings were made by my grandmother when each of us were born, there is a Strawberry Shortcake ornament for my sister and I each that has our name and 1981 hand painted on the back, a Christmas ornament from Olan Mills of my sister and I from 1982 and an ornament with my dads picture on it from the funeral home where he was buried. The stocking hanging in the back is his original stocking my grandmother made for him years ago.
All of this reminds me of my dad. It brings me JOY to put it out every year. To touch each and every ornament. To remember him as I place the wedding bells on the tree just as I did when I was a kid.
It’s a tangible thing I can do to remember him at the holidays. Something I look forward to every year. Instead of dreading putting out the Christmas decorations, now I look forward to it.
My friends, it is never too late to start a tradition. You can start this now, this year. Take time to find the things that comfort you in these hard times.
Love you all, Melissa