Thanksgiving was the first major holiday spent without my Grandpa. Without any grandparent. I already knew this, but I can say with assuredly, I do not like holidays without grandparents. Quite frankly, it sucks.

I really struggled while Thanksgiving was approaching. My mom had asked me to bring some things to dinner and while I was shopping for ingredients and baking my creations, I kept picturing the whole family, it’s as thoughtI forget that I’ve lost people. That our numbers have decreased. Even worse, I kept picturing the whole family at my grandparents’ house. I forget it’s no longer a part of my life.

My last Christmas on the green couches at my grandparents’ house.

I don’t want to forget that house. I don’t want to forget the people responsible for creating the family that blesses my life.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were holidays best spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We didn’t always celebrate there, but when we didn’t, I complained. I liked the feel of Grandma’s house when her couches were rearranged to make room for the little tree that was always a perfect fit. I loved how warm the living room was. How there was just enough room without being too much room.

I loved sitting on those green couches even when I was a little girl. I picture the holidays on those couches, in that house, with that “Grandma’s house”  feeling. It’s the picture of Christmas most ingrained in my mind. To me, that’s what Christmas is.

My grandma passed away two days before Christmas, you would think that it would ruin Christmas for me. No, it’s almost as if my brain has chosen not to make that connection. Somewhere, I’ve pushed that reality aside and only picture the good things from Christmas. I just see us all together on Christmas, that’s all I remember. I don’t remember the more recent, cold Christmases, spent without my Grandmother.

It hurts that it’s not real. But what hurts even more, is the fear of those memories being replaced. As much as I can’t wait to see my grandparents again, I still hope to live a long life. If that is the case, I have many Christmases left to celebrate without my grandparents. What if I start picturing Christmas differently? What happens when those memories start to fade? What happens when I can remember the living room at Christmas but I can’t quite remember where everything went?

You lose so much when you lose someone you love. You lose smells, voices, and even memories, the things we are the most grateful for, begin to fade.

It’s not fair. I think it’s no coincidence that the holidays are such a painful time for those who have lost people they love and yet they are the time to remember that we have a Savior who allows us to return to one another.

I’m positive that’s not a coincidence. I am so grateful that Christmas to me is a religious observation reminding me of the role Christ plays in our lives and it is also a time of wonderful family memories, past and present.

All I can do is share my memories, write them down. I’ll paint them as best I can and hopefully I can look back to them and until I’m old and wrinkled, I can still remember what it felt like to be an 8-year old little girl pretending to be Mary in the Christmas Nativity we acted out in Grandma’s living room, until I’m able to take advantage of the greatest gift of all and join them for a family celebration once again.