Christmas Remembrance

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wDecember marks the end of the year and during this month, one of the most well-known of holidays, Christmas takes place. For those who observe this event, it’s usually a time to meet with family and friends, exchanging gifts, enjoying a meal with one another and taking in each others company. It’s a recipe for an enjoyable celebration, yet mindfulness needs to be exercised, because some may not look at this holiday in the same light. I happen to be one of those individuals.

Growing up, I loved the month of December, my birthday is on the first of the month and 24 days later I would get even more presents (As a kid that’s cause for celebration!). Playing outside was wonderful, I could stay out for quite a while in the crisp winter air, playing with my dogs, building snowmen, then coming in for the day and settling down with a warm cup of hot chocolate. This could repeat in the weeks leading to Christmas and I never tired of it. One winter, my Father and I were featured on the local news, they said we were a family walking the dog, but in actuality, one of our dogs got loose and we were bringing her back home!

Christmas was important to everyone one in my family, especially my Mother. She would go all out during the month, purchasing presents for even our extended family, small gifts, but gifts nonetheless. She helped my Father set up his old train set around the tree; she really loved this time of year. The reason why I mentioned my Mom, is due to the fact that she isn’t on this earth anymore. She passed away the day after Christmas in 2009, and that changed how I viewed the holiday for a long time, even now.

My Mother was in the hospital for most of December 2009. She wasn’t at home, she wasn’t comfortable, but she still had the Christmas spirit, even from her hospital bed. Because she couldn’t do the shopping for the family, she designated me to do it. She said: You’ve watched me do it for all these years, so you can handle it. And I did, I got gifts purchased, put the tree up, finished all the preparations, but with my mother not at home, it didn’t feel the same. And as the days to Christmas approached, my Mom’s health declined further and on Christmas day she fell into a coma and wasn’t even able to open up the gift I purchased for her. This situation really hit me hard and it colored how I saw the holiday in the future.

For several years after my Mom’s passing, I couldn’t attend Christmas. I didn’t have the fortitude to see all my family members and have my mother not be there. The most that I could do was give them a Christmas phone call. They understood my circumstances, and I’m sure they were hurting as well, but losing a parent who raised you is heartbreaking.

Now, currently I’m able to attend the holidays, Christmas included. It’s hard but I think I’ve learned a few things. One thing in particular that I learned is that, with time a person can build a toolbelt to handle tough circumstances but the pain, even if it’s a dull throbbing, is always there. But just because you feel that pain, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t learned to cope. Sometimes you need to feel those emotions to validate yourself and what you’ve been through.

Due to my experiences, I can understand why some have a certain viewpoint of the holidays, some like myself have lost loved ones. So I think that’s important to consider, while the holidays can be a wonderful time, for others is a somber reminder.


Ziggy is a Certified Peer Specialist in PA and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Let’s Act committee, a group of peers devoted to raising awareness about mental health care. In his downtime, he enjoys reading novels and watching nature documentaries.

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