Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Calendar - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

I'm so thankful for the really long run we had without losing any of our close family. However, since 1994 our number has declined. First, it was my Dad, Earl Robert Stewart, who died in September of 1994. We only had a few months to adjust before our Christmas Eve party. Dad's job was always to read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke while everyone sat quietly - a rather difficult task for the little ones who awaited their presents. Even though his job was taken over by my son-in-law, I still miss Dad's beautiful voice on that special evening. He is remembered on Christmas Eve with his famous baked beans.

Then, just before Christmas (Dec. 20) of 2001, we unexpectedly lost my brother-in-law, Warren Parrent. Warren was always so much fun, especially when our girls were small. Warren seemed to have as much fun playing with their new toys as the girls did. He would be on the floor investigating the workings and "helping" the girls figure everything out. He was a great guy and we miss him. He is remembered each Christmas Eve with a bowl full of cashews - one of his favorites.

In September 2002, my mother, Gladys Miller Stewart, died. She had literally "made" our Christmases for so many years, the thought of celebrating without her was devastating to me. I learned everything I know about hostessing a party from my mother. She had a wonderful way of making everyone feel warm and welcome. There really isn't any part of our party that doesn't remind me of her. Our special reminder of Mom, though, is fudge.

Finally, this will be our third Christmas without my mother-in-law, Alice Davey Higgins. Oh, how she loved it when the family got together. For several years before her death, she was unable to get out to our party; so we would bring an abbreviated party to her and my father-in-law. A couple of hours before the party at our house, everyone gathered at the retirement home for a pre-party - complete with food and gifts, song and jokes. Alice seemed to really appreciate the effort and we got to have double the fun! She didn't have a favorite party food, but we remember her just the same.

We miss them all but, as we celebrate, the memory of their lives are special gifts to us.

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