5 Condolences: holiday traditions

Starting a new family tradition – visiting historic Long Grove, IL after Thanksgiving

Two years ago, my aunt was killed by a drunk driver. Our family quickly gathered at her house and spent the week informing friends and family of her death, arranging services, locating important paperwork, sorting her belongings to donate items to charity…the “to do” list seemed never-ending. 

In the midst of this week of busy and stressful tasks, we paused each night to light candles for Hanukkah.  Though it was not a tradition I grew up with, something about it brought me great peace and comfort.  And these brief gatherings each evening are one of the things I remember most fondly about that week with my family. 

Holiday traditions and rituals, even borrowed ones, can be very comforting.  Whether it’s eating special foods, lighting candles, or singing songs, traditions help us feel closer to loved ones. And when those loved ones pass away, carrying on those traditions helps us remember them and keep them close.

This week, we share five condolences about holiday traditions: 

  1. We will make a plate and pass it around in the tradition that Dan started, placing food items on it for those who can’t be there for whatever reason, or those of you who have gone on to rest and are watching all the food being passed around. [Published in The Sacramento Bee]
  2. I will carry on your tradition of lighting a candle for our dearest family members who are no longer with us at Christmas time. I will light a new one this year for you my dear sweet sister. May your candle always burn the brightest for the light you have given to us all. I will Love you always and see you again one day.  [Published in The Courier-Journal]
  3. I had the privilege of caring for Bob in 1995 when he was a patient in ICU. We struck up a friendship out of our mutual admiration of Harry Truman. I joked with Bob that I wouldn’t be able to remember him as years went by but I would remember that we both loved ole Harry. And so began a tradition between us that every year at Christmas we exchanged letters with the return address “Harry Truman Fan Club”. [Published in Florida Today]
  4. We loved Aunt Kitty !! We spent so many wonderful meals and holidays with her, Uncle Joe, Kathy and Joey. Our New Year’s Chittling Feast was a family tradition for many years. She and Uncle Joe never missed the opportunity to connect with family and friends over food. [Published in Charlotte Observer]
  5. Our family started a tradition of gathering on Christmas Eve to spend the night together so that we could all wake up together on Christmas morning. It was during these Christmas Eve’s where we began playing trivial pursuit together. Ray loved to play that game. And I tried fiercely to beat him at it. He was the only person I ever met who adamantly told me that the answers on the cards were wrong on occasion. Our playful rivalry carried on for years. [Published in Dallas Morning News]

Legacy.com reviews one million condolence messages each month. In our “5 Condolences” series, we highlight messages with a common theme.

About Katie

I joined Legacy.com in 2002 as a part-time content screener and now serve as Director of Operations, overseeing Legacy’s day-to-day operations (Guest Book screening, obituary processing, customer service, and client service). I grew up in California, the daughter of a psychologist and a minister. My parents instilled in me the importance of listening to and caring about others. One of the things I appreciate most about working at Legacy.com is that I am able to have a small part in easing people's pain during one of the most difficult times in their lives. In my life outside of Legacy, I enjoy baking treats (and bringing them to the office to share), playing the piano, reading, taking pictures, tending to our vegetable & herb gardens, trying out new restaurants and foods, spending time with my husband, Chuck (whom I met at Legacy) and our kids, Brett Jr. & Josie, and playing with our hound dogs, Mugsy and Bo Jangles.
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