The holiday season is the perfect time for reflection, would you agree?

I hope you’re surrounded by plenty of things to be grateful for. However you celebrate–or even if you don’t–I am thankful for YOU being part of my life. I wish you peace, love, and health–always!

Despite my absence and the emotional rollercoaster ride I’ve been since my mom’s passing in October, earlier this week, 12/22/21, I managed to accomplish a goal that renewed my energy. I will share more about it next week.

This year, there is a big void. I miss my mom’s voice, smile, laugh, and face. I miss talking to her immensely. It feels lonely not having her, even though she was thousands of miles away. In the business, we often say that everyone is replaceable. In the business of family, there’s nothing that will replace a parent.

I’ve been a little over two months since she’s been gone. Yet, as I type this post, I feel tears come out of my eyes as I miss mom as well I feel my heart expand with gratitude and love as I reflect upon my family’s Christmas tradition with mom and siblings (and whoever else was around) in Brazil.

On the 24th, we always waited until midnight for the festivities. The cooking for hours during the day, smiles, laughs, a sense of happiness, and unconditional love regardless of whatever was going on were the things that I LOVED about the holiday.

The staple dinner at home included, not exclusively, my mom’s lasagna (my fav and yet the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten), well-seasoned farofa (yucca/tapioca flour), turkey meat, potato salad (made from scratch — I did not like making mayo by hand), rice with corn, peas, and carrots), salad which I never ate, and my favorite dessert–torta de bolacha Maria (layers of Maria cookie softened in milk, condensed milk, and hand-made cream of prune topped with chocolate sprinkles). I was so addicted to that dessert. Practically, it was for me and I killed the huge container in 2 days. Everything my mom cooked was delish. We learned her recipes and I hope to make them together when I go home to take my mom’s ashes to the mountains and celebrate her life with my siblings.

It was only after midnight that we would eat, then exchange gifts which we always made sure it was a surprise (we didn’t have wish lists for gifts), and sometimes after all, we’d play cards. We’d go to bed 3-4 am. The best!!!! We’d call relatives during or after dinner too—or at least the ones we knew would be up after midnight.

I will tell you this, gifts were nice but the time we spent together and experiences during the day were what really mattered to me. On Christmas Day, we would eat leftovers, nap in the afternoon, play cards, watch some TV. It was a day to relax!

Until this day, I am not a “gift’ person. I am a ‘time’ and ‘experience’ type of person. Until this day and despite the fact I’ve been away from home and spent very few Christmas at home since 1996, Christmas eve is an important day and one I feel like I ought to stay up after midnight.

And last night, after getting home from dinner and movies (The Matrix Resurrections) with a few acquaintances of mine, I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies ‘You’ve Got Mail’. Went to bed around 1 am 😊

What was the Christmas tradition you grew up with?  I’d love to hear it. And/or if there is any other memory and life experience (past or recent) you would like to share, I am all ears!

Sending you and your family blessings. Talk soon!