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5 Ways I’ll Be Remembering My Dad This Holiday Season

This will be our family’s first holiday season without my dad. It’s going to be difficult, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to help all of us through it. Here are 5 ways we will be remembering Dad during the holidays:

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1. Memory candle

I purchased a flameless candle hand painted with a beautiful poem and golden dragonflies. The dragonflies are significant because of a children’s book on death I was given to read with my young daughter after Dad died. She loves them, and the candle, which will be placed prominently in our home throughout the holidays.

2. Photo ornament

Our family celebrates Christmas, so I purchased a photo memory ornament for our tree. I printed out one of my favorite pictures of Dad, and when we get the tree up, together we will find the perfect place to hang it. I also got one for my mom to place on her tree.

3. The old and the new

Growing up, my family had some wonderful holiday traditions, and I have enjoyed carrying on my favorites with my husband and daughter. This year, however, we all felt the need to do some things a little differently. We’re going to take a family walk on the beach Thanksgiving Day, for example. Something, ironically, my dad would have loved but we never did before.

4. A gift from BaBop

Even though he can’t physically be with us, the gift of his love can live on.

My dad loved to dote on my daughter. Before his dementia progressed, he was known to show up to our home with small trinkets for her; things he had bought on impulse because he knew she would love them. So this year, there will be a present under the tree for her from, “BaBop.” Even though he can’t physically be with us, the gift of his love can live on.

5. The elephant in the room

I believe it's very important we acknowledge the joy and the pain this holiday season will bring. It is normal and perfectly OK to be both happy and sad. I know emotions will be running high on both ends of the spectrum. In my family, we are open with our feelings; we never hide them. It is how we approached Dad’s dementia and death, and it is how we will face the holidays.

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For months now, I have been dreading the holidays. The closer they got, the tenser I felt. But now, with Thanksgiving just one week away, I have a sense of excitement the way I normally do.

For one thing, it’s hard not to when you have a 5-year-old. My daughter loves this time of year, and I love watching her enjoy it. And, now that I know my father will be part of our celebrations, I’m ready to move forward.

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