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November 4, 2016: Holidays Without Mom

I don’t remember much from before my mother’s diagnosis. I remember going to school and playing with friends. I remember coming home to find some after-school snack my mom had prepared for us (yes, everyday). I remember going upstairs to tell my dad about whatever happened at school (when he worked from home). I remember little things. I don’t really remember anything special about how we celebrated the holidays, but I’m sure we were just like everyone else. You know, a “normal family.”

My mom’s diagnosis was like a slap in the face. I all of a sudden realized what was really important in life. Family. Everyday was a gift and the holidays became an extra-emotional time for us. Every holiday that my mother got to celebrate with us was a huge milestone.

The holidays became a time that I dreaded. It felt like we were all just faking it and pretending to be a “normal family”. It all just reminded me of how we weren’t one and probably never will be. The whole “faking it” thing continued even after my mother passed and after my father remarried. The first year was just uncomfortable and a little awkward for everyone…

Now we’re 3 years later and this year’s holidays have been somewhat, different. They were nice… kind of fun even. Everybody helped with the cooking and cleaning, everybody sat around the table for the holiday meal (which is VERY rare). Everyone smiled. Real, happy smiles. We ate, we talked, we laughed. We sang holiday songs on the top of our lungs and it was amazing.

We’re never gonna be a “normal family” but I’m okay with that. Our family isn’t complete, but we’re not broken. We’re different from most families and we don’t look it, but we work together. The holidays were proof of that. I’m happy to say I now love the holidays, and I love my complicated family.

I hope your holidays were as meaningful as mine.

Happy Holidays,

Rivka Frankl.

Neve Daniel/Golan Heights.

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