Grieving During the Holidays — My Favorite Ornament

When my mom told me my dad’s prognosis, my first reaction after catching my breath was me wishing I could take away his cancer and bear that burden for him — to spare his life with mine. And it wasn’t a surprise when she told me that was exactly what my brother said, too. We would all do the same for each other and credit has to go to my parents for instilling in us how important family is and why we should always be there for each other. And that is one reason why I am so adamant about keeping his memory alive — especially during the holidays. Even if it’s just including him with a simple, little ornament.

Do you have a favorite ornament on your Christmas tree or a special way of honoring someone’s memory?

It started six years ago when my dad passed away. My mom ordered an ornament in memory of him and since then it’s gotten prime real estate on the tree every year. The best spot — front and center and eye-level. It’s the first to go up and the last to come down. It’s just one of the ways I include him during the holidays.

Decorating for Christmas always makes me think of Dad. I always want to do it alone so I can pull everything out, turn up some Southern Gospel music really loud, and just have a moment. I think I go through every emotion imaginable. I have no idea how it’s possible to feel so close to someone yet so far from them at the same time sometimes. It makes me happy to know he’s home and watching over us but so sad that he isn’t here. I know he’s still witnessing our lives but that’s the selfishness coming out in me. I want to witness his life. I at least find comfort in knowing he has seen the face of Jesus and he is happy and well.

That memorial ornament was my favorite until earlier this week when I put up the tree. (You can see my tree by clicking here!)

My dad was a cotton farmer for the majority of his life. Since his passing, cotton just reminds me of him. I don’t know of much that is more beautiful than seeing an open field covered in “southern snow.”

I’m so thankful to have cotton from his crops. It’s one of the most cherished things I own! I have one stalk from root to bloom and I’ve put it inside a shadow box. But then I have a shoe box of “remnants.” Cotton bolls that were picked or fell off their stalks – some are perfectly shaped, others are a little worn. I made shadow boxes for my mom and brother so that they could have some, too. I didn’t want to hog it all because I know how special it is to have — to be able to look at something that he worked so hard at and spent so much of his life doing — that he personally planted and grew from seed to bloom.

That’s when I got the idea to turn one of his cotton bolls into an ornament. My only fear was ruining the cotton boll and having even less of it! (I really want to use it in my wedding one day.) So I found one that was nearly perfect. It looks just like it did the day it was picked! I found some twine, got out my glue gun, and within 2 minutes my new favorite ornament was created.


I love it. I put it next to his memorial ornament because that’s just how I felt it should be. If you have a favorite ornament or a special way to honor someone’s memory, I would love for you to share it with us in the comments!

Having someone to miss is a blessing even when it feels like a curse. And man, can it feel like a curse some days.

We can all get through the holidays with grief by honoring our loved one’s memory and rejoicing in God for our time with them.

My hope is that we can all see through our sorrow and recognize tomorrow is not ours. The day that we have been given — lets not neglect it. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow so we should enjoy this day of grace and live joyfully.

Let’s all try to be better at not receiving the grace of God in vain.


7 thoughts on “Grieving During the Holidays — My Favorite Ornament

  1. I love how you have honored your father. These mementos are so beautiful. I don’t do anything on Christmas for those who are gone and I have loved. Now I wish I had. Christmas is a bit hard for me. Maybe I could make something with 3 candles, for my brother, grandson and nephew. Thank you for the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as you’re still with us, it’s never too late to start! Lighting candles for them is such a sweet idea. I pray you can find the comfort you need to make this Christmas a little easier for you ❤️ It always helps me when I can include him somehow — so it doesn’t feel like we’ve abandoned him or his memory. I hope it can help you too! I really do love the candle idea.


  2. This was the most beautiful post that I have ever read. I lost my grandma last December to whom I was extremely close. I have been trying to think of ways to remember her on Christmas especially since her birthday is on December 22.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that has to be hard with her birthday being so close. Have you thought about cooking some of her recipes or dishes for a holiday dinner? That would be such a sweet way to include her!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking about her special dessert the other day, but I didn’t even realize that I could do it on Christmas!! I think I will 🙂 sorry about your dad. I could feel your heart and your pain in your story. I’m glad that you have found wats to include him and remember.


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