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Your Traditions: Pam Phelps
A few years ago when my husband passed away I noticed that because of our deep sense of loss, there was a disconnect within my little family. Looking to heal the hole in our hearts, I tried to come up with something to help us return to the warm feelings of love and appreciation during that first holiday season without him. I thought I’d sneak a little new tradition in that might shake things up a bit. For that year's Christmas, I wanted us to feel even closer and remember the real things for which we were still thankful. I set out a votive candle in front of each of us, with a special key word underneath, and said nothing while we were all getting seated. We enjoyed our holiday meal, as we usually do, but at the end, I explained our new little ritual. Each of us was to light our candle, one at a time, but each candle had a specific meaning and we could take a moment to say anything that came to mind generated by what that particular candle stood for. My oldest son went first. His candle was for “thankfulness.” As he carefully lit it, he spoke sweetly saying, “I am thankful for you Mom and my departed Papa, because without your love and example, I would not be the man I am today nor would I have been able to meet and marry my beautiful wife.” Next was my youngest son. He thought very carefully as he lit the candle of “hope.” He began softly, “I think with some of the demons and hard times I have faced, that it is very appropriate for me to be lighting this candle. I hope for a brighter and better future through my efforts both for myself and my wonderful family.” Next was my daughter-in-law, and her candle was the candle of “memories.” She paused for a moment and then said, “This candle that I light serves to remind me of all of the positive memories I have and am making with the real family I have now and how they all have embraced me making me feel loved and like a true family member.” Lastly, I was up to light the candle of “love.” Selfishly, I saved this one for myself. As I lit the candle, with a lump in my throat, I said, “This is the candle of love. It is for all of the love I feel, the love I’ve lost, all the love I have received, and for all the love I try to give.” Yep, by now, we were all a bucket of tears but in a good way. I think it is very healthy to be reflective from time to time, and it truly has a deeper impact if these reflections are shared as a group. The next year, I made only one change. My daughter-in-law’s son was out of town and unable to be with us. Next time, he will be with us and I have already decided to add one more candle, and it will be especially for him. It will be the candle of the “future"... now, carve the doggone roast and pass the potatoes! — Pam Phelps, Manteca