How the Holidays Change After Losing a Loved One

There is no doubt in my mind that the holidays are the best time of the year. Each year, I look forward to all of the baking, eating, gift buying and getting, and the overall joy this time brings. In particular, I crave the secret-recipe Italian homemade cheesecake my aunt makes every year. Only, this year, and for years to come, she won’t be making it or enjoying it with us. This past summer, my aunt unexpectedly passed away. For myself and for many, we will be experiencing what I am currently referring to as “the first Christmas without them.” As the holidays approach, I am forced to think of the obvious and not-so obvious ways things will be different without her glowing smile.

Let’s begin with the obvious:

They won’t physically be there

Well, duh. Everyone will look around the table and notice the missing person in the spot she used to sit and it will be devastating.

The Venue

­For each of my last 19 Christmases, our family has celebrated Christmas Eve in my aunt’s kitchen, where she served us an endless seafood dinner that blows Red Lobster out of the water. This year, we will have no choice but to visit a different family member’s house and enjoy the same meal in a not-so familiar atmosphere.


My gift list is short one very important person this year, and while my wallet may be happy about it, my heart isn’t.

However, above all else there is one not-so obvious way Christmas will be difference this year:


Going into the holidays with sadness in my heart, I can already feel my aunt’s presence all around me, encouraging me to be just as joyous as any other Christmas before. I am certain that she will be felt throughout each event that occurs this Christmas, smiling down at our great big family from above.

And yes, she will be laughing at my endless failed attempts at her Italian cheesecake.