There is something so comforting to the traditions that have always been. We have enjoyed certain traditions over many years at Christmas and our traditions have in some way set our rhythm, routine and expectations for when we all gather.
I have learned that in the midst of grief, traditions don’t feel as simple as years past. There is a sense of comfort but there is also almost a greater sense of disruption. This year, we opted to hang onto some and let some go.
Change is hard and as we are coming off from our family Christmas weekend, I am so grateful for a family bunch that is willing to try new things.
We did not have Christmas at Papa and Beppe’s house this year. (yes, we agreed we can all still call it Papa and Beppe’s house though). We packed up a whole bunch of stuff and went to a cottage all together on Lake Michigan from Friday midday to Sunday midday.
We didn’t have a tree there and we gave up our long-time tradition of clues when gift giving. We changed some things up and we kept some things the same. None of the changes removed the reality that my Dad wasn’t there and yet some of the changes eased the depth of our grief. It was good to be able to identify what we would hang onto and what we would let go of.
We did keep our tradition of presenting your gift with a poem. I will share more of this over time, but tonight I leave you with the amazing poem written and presented with my beautiful gift.
Trixie Lynn, my sister dear,
what can I say, it’s been a hard year
We’ve suffered some pain we didn’t expect
We’ve lost some things we would’ve rather kept.
One version of the story we’re living
could be full of self-pity and void of thanksgiving.
After all, we are sad and our grief is so new
And the days without tender spots are rare and are few
But that’s not the only true version to tell
For as we look back there are sweet spots as well.
As one of your nephews taught us (not one of the Boses)
There are precious things we can gain from our losses.
As we’ve learned before from our acquaintance with grief
Some bonds grow stronger and bring sweet relief
As we stood on the patio that warm May morn
And toasted to Dad, led by Mom’s second born
We felt such a mixture of sadness and grace
For the goodness that continues to grow in hard space
For the gift of the Dad, we miss because he was good
And knowing that many would choose one like him if they could.
So this Christmas let’s choose joy for all that is right and true
And on my list of gratitude, way up on top, my sweet sister is you.
Written by Suzi Bos (December 2018)
And the gift was a beautiful wall hanging of the toast that my brother Nick offered on the patio after a very meaningful committal service.