When you miss someone at Christmas

This post was about missing my Mom at Christmas, but it applies to any occasion. You have the power to choose joy. Read on…

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I drove into town the other day, thinking nothing really of it. Until I happened to go by my mom’s condo complex.

I slowed down and glanced at her front gate. And totally out of the blue, my eyes stung and I gulped hard.

Mom’s condo was pretty. It was simple but pretty. It housed a vaulted ceiling, white cupboards, peachy taupe undertones on the walls and was filled with her things from back on the farm. It was so her.

I miss the peach. The warmth of her kitchen beside her fireplace. The coffee that always greeted you as you walked in. And even all the charming clutter leaving barely a square inch on those counters. I always laughed and did a little decluttering and decorating when visiting. She just liked stuff.

But most of all, I just miss her bear hugs.

I fought my feelings as I drove on. It didn’t pay to dwell where I couldn’t fix things. It just didn’t. So I snapped myself out of it and carried on my way.

For the most part, I can do that. I’ll remember at the blink of an eye a memory and most times I can laugh with it. Here’s one… Mom was losing her hearing so each time we met up, it would sorda turn into a friendly yelling match. She never wore took a huge liking to her hearing aids, so when we went out to eat, we had to really crank up the volume as if we were all deaf ourselves.

And then you’d go to her house after. I remember avoiding a visit with her when I was on a super serious diet, because her table was always filled with candy dishes. And then she’d always drag out desserts to go with coffee. I was weak and never bought or made that stuff, so I couldn’t say no. Ever! Her kitchen table with it’s 3 or more vignettes plus all the candy and pastry dishes were quite something.

She was so funny when you were due to leave. She was never ready for that, so she’d conjure up a brand new conversation, hoping you’d linger JUST a little longer. When we reached about 4 new ones (all the while me putting on coat and boots and gathering up our stuff), it never failed. I always HAD to announce, “Ok Mom, gotta go! Right now!”

But that wasn’t the end of it. She was always that mom that went OUTSIDE to the road when you left, but not just at the door outside. She had to walk to each window, waiting (yes, waiting) for you to roll it down so you could say your goodbyes just one (or 3) more times.

Ohhhh but it didn’t end there either. She’d stand on the road, and you’d see her wave until she was out of sight. One never ever drove away with her back to you. Ever. So you cranked your neck as you attempted to drive, waving over and over again until you rounded the corner.

And then the guilt would set in. How could we leave her there all alone? Augh.

Memories of my mom make me smile. I think of her all the time, wondering what it’s like in Heaven. Funny… when it’s our time to go, we have lots to look forward to, but then it hit me. When we’re here, we miss those gone, but when we’re gone, will we miss those we leave behind?

Which reminded me yet again, memories are sweet and precious and the way we were intended to remember those we loved. But the biggest deal of all are the folks we are with right now. We, at this very moment, are making memories with them. And I would hate the fact that my son remembered me mourning my mom all the time.

I allow him to see me get a little emotional at times, but it’s no more than a sniffle and wiping away a single tear. We’re built to feel and it’s ok. It’s just not a good thing to dwell there for too long. My mom certainly wouldn’t have approved of us being sad on her account!

Christmas is most certainly different these days for us. It’s quieter, and it’s funny how you actually do adapt and make it ok again. But I will say, it’s a mind frame. I can allow myself to dip deep into despair and mourning if I let myself. But I don’t feel a reason to. It just wouldn’t fix anything anyway. So I just flat out don’t.

Why all this on Christmas Eve?  Well, I think at some point we all miss someone this time of year, whether it’s family we can’t be with or loved ones now out of our lives. Christmas is like that, it conjures up the best of memories making you miss the missed even more.

But when I turn towards my son, I know what I have to do.  I have to put on a brave face on the days I don’t feel like it. But when I do, we always win. We go on, creating a new path and new way for just the two of us. We are what we make of our days.

If you’re alone this Christmas, I do have a suggestion for you. We aren’t created to be alone, yet that’s the choice so many of us make. Yup, it’s a choice, and the sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you can release what ails you and get happy again.

It takes a little willpower, but to step beyond your comfort zone and make a connection is necessary for the next step. More friends or family reunited. You do have to take a chance. And just know, I understand how hard that is.


I’d like to wish each and everyone of you a warm, lovely laugh filled Christmas, whether you’re on your own or missing another. It may be different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad. Choose to turn it into the Christmas you desire!

Remove the need to impress. Be yourself, dress the way you want, don’t worry about the pressure to give, and just go enjoy. Just. Go. Enjoy.

Quoting my friend Deb from Homeward Found Decor:

“Making the most of what we have now is the way we celebrate in a season of loss…”

Indeed it is, Deb. Thank-you.

Go on. You can do it if I can.

Merry Christmas everyone!  Make it one! Promise?

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My little white Christmas tree of gratitude.

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Categories: Family, Inspiration, Personal

46 thoughts on “When you miss someone at Christmas

  1. Thank you Donna for this lovely post ~ I just lost my dear husband of 43 years on the 9th. He would have been 65 on the 20th, and tomorrow is Christmas. It is hard, but I know he’s with God and that is reason to celebrate.

    Love and hugs to you and your dear son. May your Christmas be lovely and 2013 a year filled with many blessings.

    FlowerLady Lorraine

  2. I lost my Mom last year…this is our second Christmas without her “physical being” being there…when you look around at our family, her children, her grandchild, I realize that she never, really, left.

    God Bless you this Christmas

  3. Donna, thank you for this post. Daddy went home 2 weeks ago today. Yes, it is hard, and yes, it hurts. I have had to give serious thought as to where my Christmas Joy comes from. It is not in the decor, the food, or any of the other things that happen this time of year. It is in recognizing the real purpose of this season. It is in knowing where he is, that he recognized the greatest gift given, and that I have it too! My hope is that others will recognize the gift. It does not mean that I will never cry again, there will be times that I will feel the need to pause and grieve, it is part of the process. I give myself permission to grieve, but not permission to drown in that grief. I remember where my Joy is!!!

    My plan is to make a cake, the kind of cake he would have liked. Christmas Day, my husband and I will cut that cake, and eat it with a cup of coffee – just like we did with Daddy so many times! I can’t have him here with me, but I can bring out those sweet cherished memories and smile. I am so grateful that I have them!!!!!!

  4. Merry Christmas <3 These are lovely words and a great reminder to slow down at the holidays and really enjoy time with family. My dad passed right after Christmas 4 years ago and it's great to have those last memories of him.

    • I’m allowing myself just a few moments of computer time this morning, and your post title caught my eye. This was a touching post, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at your “goodbye scene”. We do the same thing in our family. Our son-in-laws roll their eyes and call it the Range Goodbye.

      I hope you and your son have a wonderful Christmas and your memories make you smile. :@

      xo, Vickie

  5. Donna, I thought I would check out my blog list and yours popped up. Christmas is MOST definitely a difficult time for me. I lost my Dad 5 years ago around Thanksgiving, my Grams 15 years ago and even the loss of my Golden 2 years ago is tough. But I am like you, I know that they would not want me to get too down. I remember the Christmas after my Dad past, just driving by Home Depot would send me into a crying fit. This year it hit me hard while walking through Big Lots when my husband pointed out Cherry Cordials. They were my Dad’s favorite. I broke down in the store. It’s still VERY tough. My thoughts go out to those in Ct. this year who no longer have their loved ones. We’re planning to say a prayers for them today during our Christmas Eve lunch.
    I hope that you have a wonderful Holiday ~

  6. merry Christmas dear funky junk,
    Thank you for this post this morn! Exactly what I needed as I always miss my dad the most this time of year. He was big on Christmas and loved our big family gathering with all the kids and grandlings everywhere!
    Sometime ago, I realized the best way to honor him would be to do just what you have suggested here: carry on with JOY !
    Choosing Joy

  7. My condolences; it’s never easy to lose someone we love even when we’re Christians. Dave, my husband, died and this is the second Christmas without him. Last Christmas I was in shock, the shock isn’t as great but the loss is still bone deep.
    For me, it’s important to keep some quiet time to remember Dave and our life together. Oh, I still have children over and we bake cookies, decorate a bit, and will go to a friend’s house for Christmas luncheon but it’s the quiet time that means the most to me. I’m also writing a book for others to help them prepare their affairs because it is amazing how much money can be “wasted” because we haven’t done simple things. Trust me, it’s easier to make preparations now rather than play catch up later.
    “Death comes to us or for us, it’s best to be prepared.”

  8. I’m so sorry you are missing your mom. But thank you for sharing your story. My mom has been fighting cancer since just before last Christmas. So this story hit home with me. Last week she came off all chemo. We are trying to make every minute count. God Bless & Merry Christmas to you. xoxo

  9. A very nice tribute to your Mom. And leaving my Dad’s house is the same way!! And the goodies at my Mom’s house are just as you described. I am thankful that I have them both still, and that is what I cherish while I can. A very Merry Christmas to you and your son!

  10. Donna, I know that feeling. We live next door to my parent’s house on our property. Sometimes I go out in the yard and just stare at it. Remembering. I miss them a lot. I also miss the friends who were taken from us young, two of them by senseless murder. And I think now of my best friend and her hubby, who lost his mother last week. It will be a difficult holiday for them. I think that a tear shed in memory is not a waste of water. It shows that we loved. And we all know “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” We were lucky. And one day we will all meet again. Have a sweet Christmas, Donna.


  11. Such bittersweet memories. I miss my dad in the same way, and recall the funny things about him and what a sweet relationship we had. The long goodbyes, where they are done in ‘stages’ is what we call, ‘a Norwegian Goodbye.’ LOL Your lovely post reminded me of a quotation from the movie Shadowlands: “C.S. Lewis: Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.

  12. Donna- this is a beautiful post.
    You painted such a vivid picture of your mother, it is obvious her presence in your life is till there- and always will be.

    My mother has been gone 16 years, and I still miss her.

    Merry Christmas,
    White Spray Paint

  13. Except for the hearing loss, I think we had the same mother 😉 My mom shared all the same tactics for delaying our departure. Then she would come out to the car and kiss us through the open windows. We would wave madly as we drove away, while she stood in the driveway watching us go. But we also had to give a little honk,honk with the car horn as we drove away. She’s been gone 12 years now, and i still miss her very much. Now i give my sisters that same little honk,honk as i drive away from their homes.

    Merry Christmas,

  14. Thank you Donna for sharing,
    My husband passed away in August and I am finding this Christmas difficult. I have been trying to stay positive and thankful for my many blessings. Tomorrow will be rough… but I will be thankful and try not to dwell on the negative. Finding Joy in the little things and the huge love we share …
    Wishing you Peace, Love and Joy this Christmas and for the New Year.

  15. My 90-year old dad passed away 10 months ago, then 2-1/2 months later, we moved a thousand miles away. Literally. Your post hit the nail on the head today. Thank you…and Merry Christmas to you and your son!

  16. Donna, thank you for sharing your heart! My dad was my first best friend I have so many wonderful memories with him as I sit and write this post the flood gates open with such awesome ones. He was so kind and loving gave of himself to any one in need and everyone. He was the most selfless person I knew. He never met a stranger. I lost him 2 years ago thanksgiving and still struggle with not having him. Im not sure that will ever go away. We always went together to get our Christmas tree he would always let me pick it out and we would string on the big colorful lights together. As I got older started my tradition with my husband and my mom and dad came to my house for Christmas those became different memories… Though just as special! I could hear him saying enjoy the time you have. Christmas is a time for celebrating and being family! Their are a lot of my family members in heaven and theft are all together now celebrating Jesus on his birthday. I will continue to do so as long as I have the gift of life here on earth. I know we will al be together again someday, until then we have our memories!

    Merry Christmas! God Bless…

  17. What a wonderful, poignant message here today, Donna. I am flat out bawling like a fool….but, like you, I will bundle up my tears and put on my happy face to meet those I love-so they don’t go—-oh, there goes Mom again. Their joke is to always see who can make Mom cry first. Being tenderhearted is a curse, I tell you!

    God bless you and your sweet family, Donna…and Merry Christmas- xo Diana

  18. Thank you Donna. I lost my husband a few short months ago so this season is definitely different. Flashbacks of our times together come several times a day lately, it’s hard but I know life goes on. My kids and I will be celebrating tomorrow and our hearts will be heavy but also having had that life taken from us so quickly it has put a perspective on this life that we live now. Even among the sadness blessings are abundant. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  19. Lovely post, Donna. And it makes me realize that Canadians aren’t that different than us southerner’s…my parents say goodbye the same way. My husband says we need to start saying goodbye about an hour before we actually need to leave! We have folks we miss, too, and you are so right to celebrate the moment. We look forward to our reunion in heaven but I’m loving my time here with my family.

  20. Morning Donna, reading your message and all the above comments, there is so much heartfelt feelings shown. I lost my parents at a very early age, also a brother, and yet, with God, I am a very happy person. As you said, we need to concentrate and think of all the family and friends we have today. Oops, I did find myself, as you described your Mom, I am outside or at the windows waving, blowing kisses etc, etc, etc, as my family leaves. I live in the country and can see them on the road for a couple miles and I always watch and say a silent prayer for them and that we had the time to visit. Your blog has been inspiration to many and I am so glad to be a recipient of you wanderings and creativity. May your Christmas be full of new memories. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR SON.

  21. Thanks for the sweetest post. My mom is in Hospice care right now and I will get to be with her today. It is hard this Christmas as my dad is in a home as well. YOu reminded me of not being sad as I should treasure each moment. Blessings Pam

  22. well, this is 6 yrs without my mother and for some reason it has bee the most emotional.the goodbyes sounds so like our family. with Mom gone, it is just my father at the goodbyes. BUT my mother always had to whip out the camera for pictures and everyone had puffy faces and or running eye makeup.Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  23. I am feeling quite sad today, mourning the loss of my dad who was killed by a hit and run driver in September… but like you said, I wipe away a tear now and then and put on a brave face for my husband and my children, and I’ll call my mom in the morning and cry a little but through it all try to remember what Christmas is about and create good memories now. Bless you and Merry Christmas!

  24. Thank you Donna, your post is a blessing and a sweet reminder for many of us! Also, I so enjoyed your recounting the “goodbyes”……so similar to our family’s too! Thank you for a very special post…..I hope you and your son had a lovely Christmas!
    Kilgore, TX

  25. It is a wonderful story. _I smiled & cried at the same time, because – not only was my Mum always waiting & watching me -as I Drove away from her Apartment Bld. [She lived on Vancouver Island], when I had to leave to go back home_ (back to the mainland & back to work, where I made my own homelife)… and naturally, I’d be Waving Out the Window, and looking back to see her still standing at the window… Tears filling my eyes & feeling So Guilty for Abandoning her. __Her dear friend, whom I called my Surrogate Aunt, also would come Outside to See Me (&/or, my Mum)_Off, regardless of the weather & cold… and We/I could say A Thousand Times, Please Go Inside where its Warm… But, it made no difference.
    We/or I, later – would slowly pull out of the driveway, Waving like Mad… Slowly drive off, Still Waving… and she’d still be standing there, Waving Back at Me/Us, till we had turned the corner & couldn’t see her anymore. _My Mum died Jan. 11th, 2010. Her birthday was Dec.20th. She would have been 90 yrs. old this year. _My Surrogate Auntie, died 2 yrs. before my Mum… and I know, She missed her friend something awful, as did I not being able to See or Visit with her again. _I am BLESSED to have Known So Many Wonderful People [Many, due to my work as a ‘former’ City Bus Driver from Vancouver, Canada]… It Never Really Gets Any Better or Easier, but We Can Learn to Remember All Those Whom We’ve Loved & Lost with the Deepest of Affection, Admiration & Fondness. _Unless we loss our memories – luckily and ‘hopefully’ These (memories) will always Be With Us. _And, One Day, We Shall ‘See’ and ‘Meet’ One Another Again – in Heaven or Nirvana, or wherever ones Belief-system we have where ‘We All Will End Up & Meet Again.’ -I’m a Buddhist so I believe in Reincarnation, and also believe – those closest to us – We Always Re-connect With in One Life, or Another. __I don’t know if any of my comments can or will help another. I’d hope so. __Perhaps the One Message I could share with all of you, is this: “We are All the Same, Regardless of What Beliefs, Religion, Political Views, Gender preferrence or Race_ where we ‘may’ (slightly) differ… _All of Us Share the Same Pain of Loss. _We also Love Equally the Same Also.” We are all more Similar – than Different here. _We Are All ONE!
    AND NONE OF US ARE ALONE! _We Are All Connected To Each Other!!!

  26. Oh how I needed that message!..This was my 2nd Christmas without my late Father & I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve had Christmas with my wayward son..Yeah, I shed a few tears, but from your message I learned that I DO want to make memories with my daughter, son-in-law & 2 grandchildren..We did it & we will remember this Christmas as a good one!
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
    (I printed it & will save it for years to come)

    Karen from Buffalo

  27. Oh Donna…..I am catching up on everyone’s posts and this one is my favorite post you have ever, ever written.


    I have tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making me smile and remember what is truly important this holiday season.

    blessings to you my wonderful friend,

  28. A friend shared your post on face book. I lost my parents in 2004. For some reason Christmas 2012 found me missing them so. I had a very sweet Christmas with my family, out for dinner, playing games, sharing presents, watching movies, making memories I hope they will always remember:)Hugs and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  29. Thank you for sharing this post. I have tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. I lost Dad this year (September 9th).I do miss him. Thank you very much again. I am sorry to send this comment so late . Catching up with emails after coming home.

  30. Great post Donna, it brought tears to my eyes. It’s been 10 years since my dad died and I found myself on the front porch of our family home the other day for work. It was a happy and sad ocassion as I still miss my dad terribly, but I have my many memories and even helping my mom sell the house couldn’t take those away from me.

    All the best for 2013,

  31. you sound alot like me ….love the picture of you your mom and your son.the words were AWESOME wish I had a way with words like YOU…

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