This is not a post about natural health. It's a post about celebrating and grieving. My apologies if you wanted something else. I promise to return to the norm next post.
Yesterday, we had our first Stocking Party without my Dad. Our family stocking parties originated after my parents divorced. My Dad hated not being able to see us and be with us on Christmas morning, so he started this annual tradition that has grown and evolved through the years. It is now our main Christmas celebration and is my absolute favorite. What makes it so special is that it is a tradition that grew out of love, it is incredibly unique, and it is and always was purely ours.
What is a "Stocking Party"? It is pure fun!The entire family gathers to spend the day celebrating. The focus of the party is that we each stuff a "stocking" for every member of the family. We used actual stockings in the past, but now use paper grocery bags labeled with our names because the stocking stuffers simply won't fit in a typical stocking. I can't describe how much fun it is to shop for the Stocking Party. Whether we find the perfect gag gift, or find something so unique we know the recipient will love it, finding the perfect stuffers for each person is a ton of fun.
Some years everyone gets serious items, but most years the stuffers are a combination of funny gifts and miscellaneous inexpensive gadgets and goodies. Through the years, the shopping process has evolved to the point that I think we each try to find the most unusual gifts possible. (One year, my dad received more than one gift having a "poop" theme and stopped the party to loudly ask why he didn't get the memo informing him of that year's theme.) Most of us start picking up stocking stuffers as soon as we finish this year's Stocking Party, although I confess that a last-minute shopping trip to fill in gaps has become a tradition that I treasure.
We're up to 14 family members, but this year it was really strange to not buy stuffers for my Dad and to not see his overflowing "stocking" tucked in among everyone else's. Since the Stocking Party was his creation, I think we each took special care to find extra special goodies to stuff in his stocking. I had already picked out a few things for him when he died, so I passed them along to my husband as quickly as I could. I didn't want that reminder lingering.
This year we changed things up a bit. We didn't do anything traditional related to food or other holiday trappings. I made chicken curry and everyone brought several toppings. We also invited my mom to join us. Having the complete family present was wonderful. She and my Dad's wife get along great, so it seemed very natural to expand our circle to include her this year.
I wasn't sure what to expect this year. I was kind of dreading this year's party because I feared we would all find it difficult to not focus on the fact Dad wasn't with us. Instead, the exact opposite occurred. We spent the day laughing and enjoying each other's company just as we always have. We enjoyed fond memories of my Dad but spoke of him with joy instead of sadness. Was he missed? Of course, but it was a sadness tinged with joy. I'm sure that as we move forward our joy will increase. The entire day was incredibly joyful. I'm so thankful for that.
My wish for you this holiday season, regardless of what you celebrate or what form your celebration takes, is that your celebrations are filled with joy and love. May God richly bless you and yours!