that time of year

December 2, 2014 |  Category:   family holidays life




When you go through a life changing event, the first holiday season is often like a test. There are many conflicting emotions, so much so that you almost want to just turn them all off just to avoid the clash. I can understand why some people are numb to the holidays; I get it now.


But we had a really good Thanksgiving surrounded by many cousins. The girls love having a lot of family around and it isn’t often that we can all get together like this. Geography now separates many of us, but since our parents are no longer getting together like they used to, we make that effort to keep the family going, just like when we were spending every holiday together as kids. Even with so many us together over the holiday break, it doesn’t hide the fact that there is someone missing. It may even magnify the absence of that person.
I visited my grandmother on Thanksgiving. Her studio apartment is always too warm, in the way that old radiators in NYC apartments sizzle and clank as the heat travels through the network of pipes. She has photos upon photos of family on every surface, many of which are old snapshots that have faded through the decades and some that are newer pictures of great grandkids. My grandmother is 92. Whenever I see her she tells me to take care of my mom the same way that my mom is taking care of her now. She tells me it’s good that I had 2 girls because they’ll take care of me too when I’m her age. She always manages to say that it might be the last time we see each other every time I visit.



After all the cousins left our apartment on Saturday, we went to our local tree lighting ceremony. I don’t think we’d ever been in all the years that the neighborhood has held them and we were surprised to see such a crowd and even news crews covering the event. Local businesses donated treats and carolers sang holiday songs. It was festive and it definitely felt like we had stepped into Small Town America (by the way, who else gets verklempt at that small biz AmEx commercial with the Simon & Garfunkel song? Well played AmEx, well played). Our neighborhood works hard to promote Small Biz Saturday and encourages neighbors to shop local – and rightly so, but in truth, many local businesses in our area have struggled with rising rents and online shopping. So many of us are trying to figure out this new economy.
I guess we’re officially in the season now, though Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year so it all feels a little less special now? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m a little less in the mood this year. There’s still time – 23 days to be exact – to feel that holiday magic.

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  • Lakshmi December 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Yes, I have been decidedly non-holiday-ey this time. Not feeling up to any social events. Tea + book sounds great most of the days.

  • Chai Ling December 2, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    hugs Jenna. wishing you and your family a warm December.

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      You too Chai Ling!

  • Joo December 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I love your relatable (is this a word??) stories. i’m always looking forward to the next post on your blog. 🙂

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Thank you Joo!

  • Andrea December 2, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I love your blog. Makes my days so much better..
    I knew your blog since 2008 (i’m 24 years now..) and I always come here to clean my mind and to calm my heart.. I identify with the way you see the world and I hope this kind of lifestyle for me and my children (when I have them..)

    I just wanted to say that you have a beautiful family.. and I wish the best for you. Hope God bless your way with good fortune and happiness..

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      wow, a reader from the early years! can you believe it’s been 7 years? thanks for still checking in!

  • Lulu December 2, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Do you think you will be able to do a blog about holiday gift guide? Two of my favorite blogs, Dinner A Love Story and Lottie and Doof does it yearly and I Iook forward to it.

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      hi Lulu! A holiday gift guide sounds fun, but I’ll be honest in saying that I don’t have the time to put one together because the holiday season is the busiest for us. I’m so sorry. I’m sure it won’t be too hard finding great ones this year. So many bloggers do a fantastic job with them. Cheers to you on this holiday season!

  • Ronnie December 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I just want to say…. I’m reading and I’m thinking of you.
    It’s. So. Hard.
    Ronnie xo

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      thinking of you too ronnie xo

  • Jane December 3, 2014 at 3:12 am

    That cheesecake (?) looks delicious.

    Thinking of you during this time of ‘firsts’ for you. It’s not easy, thank you for sharing your words.

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      yes, it was a pumpkin cheesecake 🙂

  • Helle December 3, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Oh my aunt’s the same. She is 90, and every time we see her she say it’s probably the last time. We live in different countries so we don’t get to see her that often, but so far her predictions haven’t come true. Christmas mood, not really. The mega-long commercial run-up really puts me off, I’m not talking about companies like yours’, but the supermarkets and department stores that start in September, by the time Christmas comes round, I’m so tired of it and just can’t wait for it to be over.

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Christmas starts earlier and earIier. I really think it does make it feel a lot less special :/

  • RebeccaNYC December 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I can so relate to all of this. Holidays are hard. Period. After a life altering loss? Even more so. And yet we continue, celebrating the life an love we have right now. It is as it should be. Wishing you peace in this year of turmoil.

    • Jenna December 6, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      thanks for those words Rebecca. Appreciate them xo

  • nanne December 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    you have had such a hard year! and, the holidays ARE the hardest after losing someone you love.

    i have always thought that one of the true tests of adulthood is when the responsibility of hosting and carrying on family events/holidays is passed on to you. it’s sad & a little scarey. but, it is also a lot of fun to be in charge and decide which of the old traditions to keep and what new ones to introduce.

    enjoy your children & your family and know that one day you will be the matriarch of your clan. power, baby!! 🙂