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Christmas time for memories

I was reminded this week how difficult the holiday season can be for some people.

My childhood best friend and her sister lost their mother to cancer earlier this year and this is their first Christmas without her.

My friend’s sister wrote a heartwarming, yet heartbreaking, post on Facebook a few days ago, which reminded me how difficult the holidays were for me when I lost my own mother. It reminded me how difficult they still are sometimes.

She wrote the post from her car in the parking lot of a Target. She said she was dreading going inside, but not because of the hoards of shoppers.

She recalled one of her biggest holiday memories was going last-minute Christmas shopping with her mother and sister, making their way from crowded store to crowded store, fighting the “crazed shoppers.”

She said she wondered why her mother would do this every year, putting off the shopping only to endure that torture each year.

Now, she realizes, it’s a trait she has inherited — procrastinating that leads to panic.

On this particular day, she said she just went to Target to try and recapture that feeling and those memories with her mother and sister.

“I know it sounds a little unhinged, but it’s also extremely comforting (and a little bittersweet) to know the world is still carrying on even when you are carrying the heaviest of hearts,” she wrote.

And it’s so true. When you’re grieving, it’s difficult to comprehend that everyone else is moving forward like nothing happened, while you’re at a complete standstill, especially during the most hustle-and-bustle time of year.

At the end of her post, she encouraged others to share their favorite holiday memories of departed loved ones.

Knowing all too well what it’s like to miss someone this time of year, I felt compelled to share a small memory of my mother.

I don’t really remember much in the way of shopping with my mother around the holidays, but I do remember one of our rituals when I was younger was to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” She loved that movie.

To prep for the screening, she would make all these special snacks that we never had any other time of the year. I can still remember the smell of her homemade chicken chili filling the entire house, leaving me salivating for hours until it had simmered just long enough.

She let me help make the ranch oyster crackers, which was a huge deal for me. I got to pour on the vegetable oil, sprinkle on the seasoning and shake and shake the giant bowl (lid on) until it was properly combined.

My mother always insisted on having cheese and meat trays from Hickory Farms. Whenever I see those at the market or mall, it’s an instant reminder of those little moments with my mother, moments I couldn’t possibly have imagined would be so precious to me now.

I understand how my friends are feeling this holiday season. It’s their first without their mother. This December marked the seventh anniversary of my mother’s passing. While it’s still painful to think about that fact that I’ll never be able to create new memories with her, I am fortunate to have many great memories, from holidays and regular days alike, to hold on to and think of when I get sad.

I know my friends will eventually come to realize this as well.

I hope everyone who is missing a loved one this Christmas can find some happy memories to remember and share with those around them. And I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas filled with many blessings.