There is something not right about the holidays this year, something subtle yet, significant.
I imagine there is an outside observer, viewing my family's holiday celebration as if the event is a film premiere at the cinema. This observer's lack of insider evidence, as a simple viewer, leads to a failure to notice there is something amiss.
As dinnertime approaches, more and more members of the family arrive to join the festivities. Laughter, smiles and simple displays of affection between family members pixelate the screen before the viewer. Feelings of comfort, home and love seep from the flashing scenes, which could be interpreted as a holiday standard for a loving family.
Emersed in the spirit of the winter holidays, the naive observer cannot see the truth that lies underneath these well-performed movie scenes, crafted in the holiday tradition. The film appears to be high-budget, expertly directed and skillfully cast such that, the observer assumes this film is but a critically acclaimed with a five-star rating. The cast of family members appear to be, so realistically, giving thanks in a joyous, celebratory manner and sincerely enjoying the company of one another.
The thing about movies is the plotlines and characters can never really be exactly as they appear. To a viewer, the story serves as a realistic parallel to real life, and the characters become existent in the world. The reality is, however, every conversation, character, and event is nothing more than the fabrications of a person's creative mind and the characters, nothing more than a bunch of people pretending to be a bunch of other people.
As fabricated acting goes in movies, so it goes in life. The facade of our "perfect" celebration begins to crumble as dinner time draws near.
The decadent smells of classic, delicious foods float in steam-powered clouds as each dish is placed diligently on the table. Suddenly, just as the final place setting is properly placed and aligned, a solemn wave of emotions drowns the smile on each family members face, a morbid rip current pushes the celebratory spirit straight to the ocean's bottom.
With the completion of the set holiday table, it becomes evident what has been off for the duration of the celebration. Seeing the set table, it is all of sudden, very clear that there is someone missing. An empty chair is left in the place where you once occupied the seat, and at this moment, each family member remembers that you are not here.
Each of us remembers that we lost you and now, the holiday celebration that we have loved and known, is permanently changed.
Though we are without you in the physical sense, your spirit is ever-so-present as your memory lives on in each of our hearts. It is not easy it is a challenge to find joy and gratitude when out feelings of grief are overwhelming. We miss you, but we also know that spending this holiday mourning is the opposite of what you would wish for us. With that, we will spend this holiday, not marinating in our grief, but rather celebrating the holidays past in which you were here with us and holding close our memories of laughter, joy and the graciousness we feel with the holiday spirit.
We miss you but, you are not forgotten. The holidays may not be the same without you, but we will find joy in remembering the celebrations past and the time we were fortunate enough to have spent with you.
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