During the holiday season, families make plans to get together for good food, good times, and good memories — or maybe not.

Holiday gatherings can be times of sadness if a family is separated from or has lost a loved one. Celebrating the special times you had with them can ease that pain. In addition to filling your table with delectable treats, use the following recipe to feed your soul with happy memories and to find joy during the holidays.

Ingredients to Trigger Memories of Your Loved One:

  • Smells like cinnamon, perfume, or burning wood
  • Sounds like a slamming screen door, a train whistle, or old songs
  • Favorite foods your loved ones made for you or loved to eat themselves
  • Objects like jewelry, an article of clothing, an ornament, or piece of furniture
  • Old photos of special places like the back porch or where you went on vacation

Optional Ingredients:

Not all memories are happy ones. In a separate bowl stir in a cup of funny stories or a handful of things your loved one taught you by deed or example such as:

  • An embarrassing moment that you both shared
  • A certain way they did something that used to drive you crazy
  • Something your loved one taught you like how to fish or bake bread
  • Traditions about celebrating holidays like family recipes or ways to decorate

Add a pinch of details like where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing as you write down or talk about whatever comes to mind. If you cannot remember specifics, ask a relative or childhood friend to add some spices of their own.

Once you have shared your memories, you will find personal rituals to celebrate your loved one as you enjoy the holidays.

Robin A. Edgar 2010

Robin Edgar

Nationally known author and workshop facilitator Robin A. Edgar offers her reminiscence workshops for organizations such as Hospice, Parkinson, and Alzheimer’s Associations. Based on her book, In My Mother’s Kitchen, she demonstrates how to use sense memory to recall and recognize the individuals and incidents that shaped our lives. This creative process is an effective tool to record family histories as well as to cope with loss or change due to illness or the death of a loved one. The principles from The Healing Power of Reminiscence Workshop benefit social workers, chaplains, nurses, and counselors as well as volunteers and family caregivers.

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