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Surviving the Holidays Once the Grandparents Are Gone

Cj Mackey

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This past year was a difficult one for my family. Over the course of the year, my children lost their two surviving grandparents, my mother-in-law in July and my mother in November. Getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas was difficult, but my sister and I traded off hosting the holidays and made the days fun for my three children. Easter was the first holiday since I have been married and had children that will be spent with only my immediate family. Having grown up with a father who was one of seven children, all who lived close to each other in the same home town, I have always connected holidays with being surrounded by siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. So for someone who never had to think about making the holiday seem different than any other day of the week, what options are available to make the day special?

Plan a trip - Whether it's just an overnight, a weekend stay or a week-long vacation, sometimes the best way to make the holiday special is to do something completely unexpected or to go somewhere the family has always wanted to go.

Take the kids out to dinner - If your family is anything like mine, you probably have some restaurants that you only go to on significant occasions. For us, there are a few places that my kids always ask to go on birthdays, mother's day, etc. like an upscale hibachi restaurant where they can watch the chef's cook. The restaurant doesn't have to be extravagant either, it may just be a favorite place to kick back and unwind, and to enjoy each other's company.

Plan a “favorites" dinner - If you all prefer to be at home for the holiday, try to make things fun by letting everyone in the family pick something that is their favorite for the holiday dinner. Whether its macaroni and cheese, barbecued ribs or homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert, or some weird combination that you wouldn't normally do, break the rules and let everybody help out making their own dishes.

Visit friends who don't celebrate the same holiday - If you really don't want to focus too much on the holiday itself, this can be a perfect time to go enjoy the company of friends you haven't seen in a while, especially if they have children around the same age.

Remember loved ones - Start a new tradition by remembering those who aren't with you any longer. You can set a place at the dinner table, take flowers to a grave site, or do something that your loved one used to like to do. In my family after holiday meals, we used to play card games. Make it anything that will make you think of the happy times you've had as a family and keep your loved one's memory alive.

About Author : C. J. Mackey is a working mother of three, balancing a full time career while taking an active role in her children's lives. She has an advanced degree in engineering and over twenty years making technology decisions for fortune 500 companies. She has always been passionate about writing and started contributing to Yahoo! Voices in December 2010. For more professional information you can visit at


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