by Guest Author, Brian Berry-Berlinski,
Live At Choice Starfisher Coach
Holidays are times when family and friends gather and create new memories. Then there comes the time when you lose one of your loved ones. I remember our first Christmas without my grandmother. For me, she played the role of a second mom, especially since my mother had passed away when I was three years old. She filled in the spot of mom for me; therefore, her passing felt like losing mom all over again.
In my large Italian-American family, my grandmother played the pivotal role of the hub of the family. Everyone depended on her to receive updates about relatives. She kept track of who was coming to holiday gatherings, and she had everyone’s gift wish list. And if all of that wasn’t enough, she made holiday gifts six months in advance – beautifully hand-painted houses and figurines for our ceramic village collections. I remember helping her put on the finishing touches on the figurines, the details that were too small for her to see clearly.
I can still smell her famous homemade Christmas cookies, especially the fried dough balls drizzled with honey, called strufoli. But most noticeably, I felt a huge lack of her presence… I wondered what happened to her unconditional love that seemed to fill the room with good cheer, where had it gone, and what can I do to have it back?
The joy of the holidays has returned for me, and they can for you. I have connected with the abundance of the holidays rather than the lack due to the loss of both my mom and grandmother.
After I had the experience of the Beyond Circumstances workshop, I discovered a whole new way of experiencing relationships and how to experience these relationships every day, as well as the holidays.
Before, I had dwelled on what was missing from my life and the holidays… my grandmother… my mother… sometimes my sister, who spent the holidays with us every other year. The more I looked for the things that were missing, the more I experienced the sadness of not having them.
I have come to realize that everything about my mother and my grandmother are still with me. And with this slight shift in my perspective I can feel my grandmother’s spirit with me as I make pizzelles, bringing one of her traditional cookies into my children’s holiday experiences. In a quiet moment I can feel my mother’s love fill my heart to the brim, her voice whispering to me letting me know that she is present to the joy of watching me and my family celebrate Christmas together. I am rich in the abundance of their lives as I move forward with my own extended family. My partner and I celebrate, share old memories, and create new ones with our children. It is far more joyful than focusing on what is missing.
Rich and abundant I feel, through the lives of those with whom I have shared time…for them I am grateful! May you also enjoy this peace!