Cemetery Christmas

December 14, 2010

My parents' grave

Janie's wreath & our swag on Aunt Bernice's footstone

Aunt Bernice's headstone at Chester Cemetery

On a shortcut through the cemetery the other day, I passed by Aunt Bernice’s stone. It looked cold and empty. It needed something. Later an idea popped into my head: I would ask my sister if she wanted to traipse through her woods to gather greens so that we could make swags for all of the graves. So that’s what we did today.

Growing up, going to the cemetery at Christmas time was a tradition; my mother and Aunt Bernice never let a holiday go by without trips to the cemetery. When I became an adult with my own family, I considered the idea antiquated. With my typical 20-something bluster, I announced that I would focus on spending time with the living rather than with the dead. And I left the tradition to Aunt Bernice to continue. As the years went on, Aunt Bernice’s faithfulness to visit the cemetery with large lush grave blankets or gorgeous florist wreaths became yet another of her “ways” that were endearing. She spent a small fortune decorating the dead and in later years, I would drive her and put them in their places for her.

So the other day when I saw her empty stone, it just didn’t seem right. And as I thought more about the whole thing, I realized the living are busy and the dead hold memories that are dear and close and they take on new significance when you lose the one who lived for so long and who knew you when you were little. And when that person dies, well, something changes inside you. You become one of the oldest in the family and those traditions once silently scorned become sweet.

Janie, our cousin, had already put beautiful wreaths on each grave. I wasn’t surprised; she’s thoughtful like that. We just added our’s. And then our part was complete, too.

It was a good day.

Comments

Comments

  1. Kathi Morehead says:

    That was incredibly touching. I am thinking of my parents now, being alone and without decoration. Seems incredibly selfish of me given the memories that they gave unselfishly. You’ve inspired me Cheryl .. I’m going to take care of this tomorrow. My best to Bobbie.

  2. Amy says:

    Our generation is so lucky to have you as one of the “oldest” in the family:-)

  3. admin says:

    Wouldn’t they all be proud of us, ….and probably surprised, too. Thank you, Kathi.

  4. admin says:

    🙂 Thank you.

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