Personal Narratives

Especially around the holidays, I reflect on the importance of family

Dec. 21, 2021

By Emily Melleno

The meaning of holiday traditions changed for me last year when my 90-year-old grandpa on my dad’s side fell and then received a Covid-19 diagnosis last year on Christmas Eve. Therefore, my mom, dad, sister and I were not able to visit my mom’s family.

When I heard the news, I was so upset because it marked my second Christmas Eve away from my grandparents due to illness. Without my grandpa Felix at our family gathering, the holiday felt incomplete.

Not only did I miss their company but the traditions of eating a delicious meal prepared by my grandma Gerry. She makes all of my favorite Italian foods like antipasto, fried shrimp and manicotti as well as Polish delicacies like perogies and a variety of rice and fish. For dessert, we generally have homemade brownies, cakes and cookies. An extra bowl is also be kept on our table for the scraps from our plates, which then go into the bowl and outside for the animals.

After the meal, we all gather in the living room and play games like Monopoly or Candy Land

Since we had been in close contact with my grandpa, we had to quarantine and could not visit my mom’s relatives on Christmas. This meant my sister and I had to break from the tradition of opening gifts with my grandma, grandpa and great-grandma. Instead, they dropped off the gifts at my house, and it was upsetting because they were not able to see our reactions to the presents they purchased.

Without my grandpa Felix at our family gathering, the holiday felt incomplete.

Thankfully, this year, I am planning to go to both of my grandparents’ houses for our traditional holiday celebrations. I am especially excited this year because I expect to spend time with my whole family without any setbacks. 

My whole family is taking precautions because we are all vaccinated and wearing masks when we are out in public. That way, we will be able to keep our elderly family members safe and healthy while we enjoy some much-needed quality time.

While I have always been close to my family, the last two years have reminded me just how much these traditions mean to us all. This year and in the years ahead, I want to be able to make as many memories as I can because one never knows what will happen in the future. 

Now, more than ever before, I will appreciate the small joys of board games with my mom’s relatives and cooking with my grandma on my dad’s side. 

I recognize that time is precious, which is why I want to make the most of every moment. I will do what I can to carry on these traditions and share the joy of the season with my loved ones.

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