Friday, December 10, 2010

The Empty Chair

Today, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to someone who could not attend the ceremony because they are jailed in China. An empty chair was set up to signify his absence to the world.

I know I don't usually talk about politics in this blog, but the chair got me thinking about all the empty chairs there are in our lives.

This holiday season seems to bring them to the forefront, and whether your memories are good or bad, those empty chairs generally signify loss of some sort.  

I like to think of December as a season of peace and forgiveness; where we look back, and celebrate the people in our lives, both those who are here with us, and those who are gone. 

Some families even set a place for the loved ones who can't be with them at the holidays. I have many friends who have lost family members this year, and as sad as it is to go through the holidays without them, this is my time to celebrate what that family member gave me.  

At Christmas, I remember my parents and how beautiful the house looked; my mother covering the entire tree with cotton to make it look like snow (no wonder we all had allergies!) and lovingly arranging a village underneath the tree where my brothers would set up their trains to run.  

My father would write Christmas cards on Christmas day; by then he'd had enough eggnog to fuel his writing personal notes to everyone on the list.  Those cards were masterpieces, something I could only dream of accomplishing!

Talking about those we have lost seems to bring them closer, and we learn what they taught us about life, and yes, death. 
Having an empty chair at the table isn't about mourning those we've lost, it's really about celebrating who they were, and what they gave us: friendship, love, encouragement, joy in the midst of pain, and their hearts. 

At the end of this year, I celebrate all those that we've lost by honoring their memories, with tradition and love.  I hope that your holidays will be celebrations, as you remember and celebrate those that aren't with you this holiday season.