My dad always played Santa on Christmas morning. He didn’t dress up, but he loved to hand out gifts to each of us. The year he died, I had been coaching for a while, and I knew that we’d all be thinking of him on Christmas morning. I pondered ways to get through the day without everyone wondering whether or not to bring up his absence, or how to talk about his it without everyone being uncomfortable. I finally settled on a solution and bought a stuffed 3-foot Santa! On Christmas morning I took him to my mom’s house where we were gathering, and without saying a word to anyone, I put the stuffed Santa in “dad’s chair.” When everyone came to open gifts, they were tickled to see the Santa representing my dad. No one had to struggle with how to handle the subject of his absence. The Santa also sat in my dad’s chair at the Christmas dinner table.
If you or someone you love is struggling with grief this year, grief of any kind, you may think of doing something similar for your family or friends. Maybe it’s just a candle as a reminder of a lost job, a lost home, a lost friend, but I think the representation is important and may offer some relief to your friends who are wondering whether or not to bring up the painful subject.
It’s a way of taking charge of the situation before it takes charge of you.