Season of Gratitude, Season of Sadness

My mom as a young woman

As I write this, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m so aware of all the people and things in my life I’m grateful for—my husband, my children and grandchildren, my amazing sisters, dear friends, the choral group I sing with, and of course, my writing work. Snow is on the ground, our holiday lights twinkle, and my husband has built us a cozy fire.

I know how lucky I am to have so many blessings in my life. And yet, I have to admit the season also makes me sad. I lost my mom in December three years ago. It really was time for her to go. She was in her nineties and suffering from dementia.

But I miss her terribly. Does anyone who really loved someone ever stop grieving?

Truthfully, my grieving for my mom began long before she died, because dementia robbed her of her memories and sharp mind. And I lost her, piece by piece by piece in those final years. But the finality of death remains a sucker punch.

It isn’t just losing my mom during the holiday season that reminds me of her. My mother absolutely loved the holidays and shopping for the perfect gifts for folks.  She was an inveterate list-maker, and we had endless discussions about our shopping plans for family members and friends.

And I loved shopping for her, finding things she’d enjoy—a book of poetry, a scarf with her favorite blue and purple colors, or some scented soaps. When I drive by the old Stein Mart building or drop by the Barnes and Noble where I used to shop for her gifts, that awful pang will hit me all over again. Or I’ll pass by a Christmas tree lot and remember that I got the call that my mom was dying as my husband and I had just pulled up to a lot to pick out our tree. It was my birthday.

My mom was also an avid reader and a lover of humor. We spent a lot of time discussing books—and lots of time laughing and sharing stories. In retirement, she became an enthusiastic volunteer for a variety of causes and nonprofits. In her seventies, she was serving meals at a homeless shelter, and in her eighties, she was making calls on behalf of Obama!  I carry with me her example of how to live a rewarding and meaningful life.

In so many ways, she is still with me. And yet, despite all the blessings in my life, sometimes I’m sad, especially around the holidays.

I miss my mom.


  1. Linda Rosenfeld on December 24, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    Your essay really speaks to me. You express your feelings so beautifully and speak for many of us. Love, Linda

    • Lynn Slaughter on December 25, 2022 at 11:19 am

      Thank you so much, Linda. I hope you and Fred are having a wonderful holiday season! Sending much love.

  2. Connie on December 24, 2022 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Lynn, My beloved father passed exactly 20 years ago tonight — Christmas Eve cv am feeling very much the same as you — grateful and sad at the same time.

  3. Lynn Slaughter on December 25, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Oh Connie, I didn’t realize your dad had died on Christmas Eve. I’m so sorry. I love you and miss you and hope you’re having a wonderful holiday with family.

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