A Sentimental Treasure Buried In The Wall

December 01, 2020

Disclosure
The holidays are a very sentimental time, especially if you've lost a loved one. Treasured items become important and when they're lost it can be sad.

Lenox Eternal China At Christmas

The holidays have always been a sentimental time of year.

The songs, the stories and the rituals, from church pageants to gingerbread houses, they all have a way of pulling at our heartstrings.

They conjure images of the ideal Christmas, spent among family and friends.

It's a universal theme.


I mean seriously, pick any holiday favorite, from A Christmas Carol to Elf, someone is always recounting tales from the old days, each with a rosy glow.

Let's face it, even watching those favorites become part of the nostalgia. 

Sentimentalism is a holiday entertainment recipe for success, because it's real and relatable.

Everyone has at least one story.

Of course, not all heartfelt Christmas feels are good ones. Some are melancholy. 

I think that's especially true as you get older. We look back, to when the magic was real, the presents were truly surprising and everyone we loved was gathered around the tree.

It makes Christmases with loved ones who can't make it to the table, for whatever reason, a little duller than the ones that came before.

My kids always tell me that I talk about the Christmases I spent with my family, as a child, with such warmth and enthusiasm.

And they're right, I do. I was small, Santa was real and my dad was still sitting at the head of the table.

When he passed, I was just twelve...and so much of the joy that filled the house during the holidays went with him. Those first few years without him were especially tough.

However, once I got married and had children of my own, I still missed him, but after decades of holidays without him, the pain was less palpable.

The kids brought Santa back into my life. There was an Elf On The Shelf to dress and hide.

Elf On The Shelf With A Felt Coat DIY

There was anticipation, excitement, joy and laughter. There were also stories about my dad, that made me smile whenever I told them.

I held them on my lap as they hid their faces in my chest, when The Abominable Snow Monster Of The North roared at Rudolph...just like I did with my dad.

I served the foods he used to prepare for the Christmas Eve feast, looked at pictures of him smiling with us, dressed in pjs, unwrapping treasure....all with a sentimental air.

But it was a happy air, recalling good times and love. 

Then my mom passed and the pall was back.

It was a crushing sort of woe, even though she'd be gone almost a year by the time Christmas rolled around. I guess, the pain of losing my mother brought up the pain of losing my father, too.

Something about being without both of them during the holidays was almost too much to bear. 

Couple that with the fact that for the first time, we'd be alone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

My siblings, their kids and grandkids, were all in different states.

Santa and Starfish Tree

For the first time ever, our usual Christmas celebration, with a crowd of 30 or more, tearing open packages, messing up my kitchen, laughing, telling stories and catching up, wasn't going to happen.

Everything felt different and I didn't like it.

In an effort to fight feeling low and to give my kids a proper holiday, I put on a happy face.

I filled the days with activities and advent presents and the nights with Christmas movies, hot chocolate car rides and baking.

And to make the day special, I was going to dig out something very, very sentimental - my mom's china -and set a fancy table for my tiny brood.

I figured it would be a great way to feel close to my mom, too.

Gosh, she loved that china.

Lenox Eternal.

Class personified. Just like my mother.

She bought it after my dad died just because she liked it.

I remember helping her wash it and place it on the table for holiday dinners. Everything looked so elegant dressed in cream and gold. 

It wasn't a cheap set and my mom was a very frugal lady, a depression era baby, in fact. So I vividly recall the day in the store when she looked and me and asked if I liked it.

Oh yes, you should get it. It's beautiful.

No, she said. Do YOU like it. It's very expensive...would you use it after I'm gone? 

What?? Oh gosh, don't say that.

I was a teenager and certainly didn't want to think about that on china shopping day.

Why? I'm serious, I don't want to waste money on something that's going to end up in the garbage.

That was my mother.

Instead of thinking, I love this and I'm going to use it and enjoy it, she was thinking, this is a lot of money, somebody better use it when I'm gone. 

So when she got sick and we sold her house and moved her into my sister's house, the first time, the boxes of china came to me. Along with a dumpster that was parked in my driveway to help with the process. 

Things were brought to my house from her condo, sorted, donated or tossed. 

And honestly, we were in such a whirlwind of moving, selling her house, dealing with Medicaid applications and her rapidly escalating medical issues, that those boxes of china got tucked away to be dealt with at another time. A calmer time.

Or so I thought.

Over the years they'd pop into my head and I'd make a casual reference to them...how they were in the garage or the attic and my husband would look at me and say, I don't think so.

He was always in those rooms and didn't recall seeing them. I didn't give the conversations much credence though. He often couldn't find the butter behind the eggs in the fridge.

So, for years, I blew him off, knowing I was right. But never really taking the time to look for them.

They had to be in there.

Right?

Well, months after she passed and the holidays approached, I finally decided to dig them out.

I needed my mom and since that wasn't going to happen, I was going to keep her close her by using her china, the way she hoped I would some day.

So I went into the basement to get the boxes. And they weren't there.

Ok, no need to panic. They were in the garage.

Except they weren't. The attic and the workshop were a bust, too. 

Was I mistaken?

Mini White Pumpkin On A Red Plate

I mean it was years ago, but I was sure they had come to me, I saw those boxes in my driveway. But maybe I was confused. Like I said, it had been a crazy time.

So I called my sisters and my brother. Perhaps they ended up with them instead. But they all said, nope, they didn't have them either.

Now, I was beginning to panic.

I went back to my husband and said, This is ridiculous. Where are they? They must be here somewhere.

But they weren't. I couldn't believe this was the one time he was right about lost items. They were missing.

Not ones to give up, we looked under things, above things, behind things and below.

We looked all over this tiny cottage, two and three times with no luck.

It was ridiculous. We searched for hours. I mean it was a complete china set. And it had vanished.

Service for twelve, including platters, bowls, cups, saucers and a gravy boat for Pete's sake. It's not like we could overlook something like that.

They must've ended up in that dumpster.

There was no other explanation.

I had many other things from my mom in the house, things that should've been more meaningful than those stupid dishes, but that conversation in the store...

That promise I had made to her, it gnawed at me. 

I was heartbroken. Her absence suddenly hurt even more and I just couldn't hold back the tears any longer.  

My husband was consoling me in the basement family room, both of us exhausted and exasperated, defeated, when my littlest came bounding down the stairs and stumbled upon us.

Mama, what's wrong?...she was so concerned.

I told her I was fine, that I had just lost my mother's china, it must've gotten thrown out somehow, and I was a little sad, because it was special to me.

I expected a hug, but instead, she cocked her little head to the side and said, It's not thrown out, it's in the wall.

The wall?? What wall??

My husband and I looked at each other completely perplexed. Then we watched her run into the boiler room, push the tangle of the central vacuum cord aside to open a tiny cabinet behind it.

Basesment Crawlspace

And lo and behold, behind a flimsy door, tucked into a narrow six inch opening that had been hollowed out between the studs, sat my mother's china.

In a space way, way too small to house it, somehow, it was all there. Full service for twelve.

Lenox China Hidden Away

Right down to that gravy boat.

Impossible.

How did you know it was in there??

I don't know, I just did...I used to see it when I was looking for the elf.

My husband and I were flabbergasted. Neither one of us remembers taking the padded zippered cases out of the storage boxes.

And neither one of us remembers putting it in that wall. In fact, neither one of us had even remembered that space existed until she opened it up.

Cottage Style Table Setting For The Holidays

It was all very suspicious and very wonderful all at the same time.

Naturally, I cried again, but this time they were happy tears.

And through them, I brought the pieces upstairs, washed them all and put them away in a much safer place.

Lenox Eternal China Set

So they're at the ready, whenever I need a little bit of my mama.

And a little sparkle. 

Lenox Eternal.

I'll say. 

Lenox China Thanksgiving Table

What's your sentimental Christmas story?
  1. What a wonderful story! And the china is beautiful. Who knows how it got there? You'll probably never know. But at least you found it.
    Brenda

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    1. Thank you my friend! A Christmas mystery for sure. I'm so, so glad we found them and now we use them for every holiday. They just make me smile.

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  2. What a beautiful story and beautiful china. It was put there for safekeeping and to have that little elf of yours to let you know where it was. So sweet. So happy you found the set and it was all there. Such a heartwarming story Kim. xoxo Kris

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    1. Thank you, Kris. It really was a perplexing mystery. We should've asked the kids first...before all that looking and mental anguish. I'm just so glad we found them. Now I display them throughout the holiday season and keep them in the family room, front and center so they can't pull that disappearing trick again! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. Kim, this is a lovely Christmas story. Thank you for sharing. That is what I love about you, sharing about love, pain, happy times, sad times, real honest life.
    The china is beautiful, I am happy you found it.
    Love, Carla

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    1. Thank you, Carla. Sharing these kinds of stories are actually my favorite, even though they’re not always happy tales, I think they are universal in a way. I love the crafts and decorating tutorials, they’re fun, but these come straight from the heart. I’m glad you enjoy them. Love to you, my friend.

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  4. The dishes are beautiful and so is your story. I'm so happy you found them xo

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I'm so glad I found them, too. xo

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  5. What a beautiful story. I was worried that it would end with you never finding the china and having to find a way to get over it. I was so glad that you found them.

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    1. Thank you so much, Briana. I was really prepping myself for that possibility. I thought we'd exhausted every space to look...thank goodness for my own little elf. Too bad we didn't ask her first!

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  6. Love this story, Kim. It reminds me of the Thanksgiving after my Dad passed away. My parents had a set of gold-plated silverware that my Dad's cousin had brought from Italy. I never really liked it, but that Thanksgiving I kept hearing my Dad's voice in my head telling me to use it to
    set the table. I sent Peter over to get it. When my mom dug it out of the back of the closet and opened the chest to make sure it was all there, she stumbled upon a beautiful cameo broach that she had been given by her cousin many years before. She had lamented its loss for A LONG TIME, believing someone had stolen it from her jewelry case. I really believe my dad was messaging us all that day!
    Merry Christmas to you and the family!
    XO
    Mary

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    1. Mary, that is a CRAZY story and I love it!! I'm sure your dad was messaging you. It's funny, isn't it, the feelings we get? I don't think we pay attention to them often enough. My mom lost her wedding ring after my dad passed. She looked for it everywhere and always held out the hope that she would find it...right down to the day she sold the house, but it never turned up. The thought of her knowing that now I lost her china, another cherished treasure, was too much for me, I think that's why I was so upset. So glad your story had a happy ending, too. Love to you guys and Merry Christmas!! xo

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  7. Oh Kim, this is a beautiful story with great outcome. I was young when my mother got rid of her china. If I were older I would have kept it. Vey similar to your mm's but hers had a tiny sprig of wheat. I wish I was older and able to take it because I remember setting every holiday table with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

    I haven't been able to take pictures with this weather, not happy.

    Cindy

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    1. I remember my mom saying that her original china was a wedding gift, one she didn't pick it out. It was actually brown and yellow and looked more like everyday plates than dressy china. So buying this pattern for herself was a really big deal. I actually had the chance to keep the old brown and yellow set, too, but it just didn't mean anything to me. Not like this one, so I'm glad I found it. I'm sorry you don't have your mom's set. It sounds like it would go very well with your style. And yes...this weather stinks. Hopefully the sun is coming back soon!

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  8. Hello Kim, thanks for the beautiful story of your lost China. As the saying goes,”out of the mouth of babes.” So happy you were able to find the precious dishes. Have a Merry Christmas.

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    1. Oh gosh!! My mom used to say that exact thing all the time!! And you're both right. ๐Ÿ˜ŠMerry Christmas!!

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  9. A wonderful story and the china looks beautiful.
    Happy December Days.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you, Jan! I wish I were as good a chef as you, so I could put something lovely on them.

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  10. Wow! This is a wonderful story - the type that should be published!
    I love the china too, it's classy and has a timeless feel to it.

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    1. Mari, wow! Thank you so much. Storytelling posts are my favorite, so your compliment means the world! ♥️

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  11. Oh my gosh! I love this story. My parents are both gone too. I miss them every single moment of every day.

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  12. Oops! Meant to also say I have a Christmas tree skirt that my Mom made for me. I knew I packed it when we moved to our new home a few months ago, but I couldn't find it! I finally found it in one of the ornament boxes at the bottom!

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    1. The loss really does leave a hole in your heart, doesn't it, Penny? I guess that means we were very lucky kids to have such wonderful parents. And I'm glad you found your tree skirt. Items like that really do make you feel closer in some way. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  13. You had me crying with you! What a great story.... I loved it! Blessings, J

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    1. Thank you, J! It was a crazy wild goose chase with a happy ending thanks to my little elf. Blessings to you, too!

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  14. What a wonderful story, Kim, and the china is beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Ann. Those dishes are even more meaningful now.

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  15. Oh my ...I am so happy you found them! So strange.

    I have so many sad memories from my childhood they have overwhelmed the sweet ones unfortunately. I have to force myself to remember the good over the bad so it's easier not to think of them at all.

    I have wonderful, precious memories of Christmas with my own little family though....like the year my son, who was 6, ran down the hall on Christmas morning...not even pausing to look at the pile of gifts we'd wrapped for him...scrambled way back under the tree & came out beaming with a gift. Running to me...'Open mine first mamma!' He was so very excited to give it to me & it's one of my dearest memories. He's 27, married & a dad & I still see glimpses of that when he gives me gifts.

    Another is when our son was a baby. Money was very tight. My husband & I budgeted an allowance of $2 each a week that we did not have to be accountable for...ha! But oh my, I hoarded my allowance & added to cash gifts I received for my birthday & Christmas. One year I hoarded for the whole year & bought my husband a Swiss army watch. From our dating years into marriage & becoming parents....anytime he had a chance to drool over Swiss army watches or knives he did. He poured over them, read about them, held them in the store & put them back.

    It cost around $100 but we rarely spent more than $10 or $20 on each other in the lean years. I warned him as Christmas came that year that I had decided to spend my allowance for Christmas. He didn't think much about it & when I handed him the little box. He nonchalantly tore into it...not expecting anything much. His reaction was priceless. He quickly calculated in his head realizing what I'd done. It's almost 30 yrs ago now but it's one of my favorite Christmas memories.

    I love reading your joy in your parents as you write about them. Neither my husband or I can share such special memories of our families....except my husband's grandmother who became my own as well when we married. But we do hope our son & grandson will think of us well when they remember us.

    Boy this has gotten long & sappy! I've spent much too much time alone this year so I guess I'm pouring out the words I haven't been able to speak in person for awhile!

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    1. Jenny, I love that you shared all of this with us!! Most writers love to read and I have to say, I’m included in that bunch. I also love that my story inspired you to share your own. And such sweet stories, too.

      Your Swiss Army watch story reminds me of that O Henry tale, The Gift Of The Magi- sacrificing yourself for the love of another. Actually, both stories capture the true meaning of Christmas…and that it’s better to give than to receive.

      And yes, my parents were wonderful people. I'm a very lucky girl. I don’t think I realized that not everyone’s parents were as supportive and loving until I was a teenager. I'm completely grateful, but I do miss them terribly. Especially around the holidays.

      And you can chat with me anytime! We’ve been pretty secluded here, as well. So chat away my friend…♥️

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  16. Oh what a wonderful story about the dishes. And what a mystery!!!! The rest of your story is both sweet and sad. My family used to gather at my mother's house on Christmas Eve...there would be about 25 of us. It was wild and fun:) But about 3 years ago my mother decided she just couldn't handle it anymore (today she is 92). Now it's really a hassle to figure out when we can visit my mother for the holiday and then we don't really get to see my siblings families. I was both angry and sad about it, but I've adjusted...what else can ya do??? Christmas is definitely a time of mixed emotions for many...I miss my little daughter that we lost many years ago but I also enjoy being with my grandchildren. It's life...there's good and there's not so good. But still much to be thankful for. Merry Christmas...enjoy that beautiful china:)

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    1. It’s hard to adjust when you expect those large gatherings, Cheri. I get it. They define the holidays for so many of us and when they disappear, celebrations just don’t feel right. And I’m so sorry about your daughter. I was unaware of your loss. How terribly heartbreaking. I can’t imagine that makes the holidays an easy time. You know, I was speaking to my husband the other day about someone, saying that I was sad, that she didn’t have a great life…and he said, she had a life. They’re all filled with good and bad. It’s just what you said - and yes, so much to be thankful for. Merry Christmas to you, too and enjoy those grandchildren!!

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  17. Oh, Kim! What a story. I’m so sorry about the loss of both parents. I’m am so delighted that you have her china and are using it. Thank the Lord for observant daughters! (I have one, too!)

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    1. Thank you, Deanna. I’m so glad I have it, too. My only regret is that I didn’t mention I was looking for it to the observant daughter first!! Ha!!

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  18. I'm so glad your treasure was found!

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  19. Kim! What a story! I'm so glad you found your beautiful china, I was getting very worried there for a while. I have some pieces for china from both my grandmothers and think of them every time I use them. Carriers of memory that come with a flowery pattern.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Carriers of memory...you always have such a wonderful way with words, Amalia. ♥️

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  20. Wow! Kim, it 's a miracle that your daughter helped you find the china in that closet. We've done that so many times with losing things in our house. It's such pretty china and now you'll have nice memories of your mom when you use the china.

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    1. It’s amazing what gets misplaced in our homes, isn’t it? I think I should start asking the kids before I look from now on. Ha!

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  21. Kim, This was such a beautiful story. I love how you describe your Christmas memories. They are so heartfelt and touched me deeply. You captured so many of my own feelings. I will definitely be rereading this lovely post! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda...and thank you for taking the time to let me know it touched you. I think so many of us share similar emotions and tales. It's nice when we can connect through them. Thanks again for the visit and the comment. It really made my day.

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  22. What a wonderful story Kim. I am so glad you had a hidden place and were able to find the china there. I too have a lot of my mom's things that I need to find. Merry Christmas my friend.

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    1. I'm glad I was able to find it Mary, it was a little bit scary there for a while...Merry Christmas!!

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  23. Wow, what a story! It was almost like your daughter was led by an angel that she found the dishes...

    And they are beautiful.

    xoxo

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    1. I can't believe she knew it was there, crazy. And thank you!! xo

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  24. This story had me in tears. And you know how to tell a story, Kim. China is very sentimental. The newer generation doesn't seem to feel its essential so they forego it (at least my daughters did when they got married). My husband and I didn't haver a very traditional wedding so I didn't register or inherit china. About q year after we were married, hubby happened to stop in at an estate sale. There he saw a beautiful set of china that he felt I would really love. Settings for 16!! The girl having the sale explained that the china was her grandmother's and she would be so happy to know it was going to another family to enjoy. We've had it for over thirty years and it was well over ninety years when he bought it. And that's my story!!!❤️

    Jane

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    1. Thank you, Jane. From one writer to another, I appreciate the compliment. My sisters got china as wedding gifts, registered for it, the whole bit, but I did not. They told me it was a waste. However now, I'm so glad I have a set that is lovely and sentimental. Sounds a lot like yours...

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  25. Kim,
    I was glued to this post waiting to see what happened to your Mother's china...It is stunning and what a treasure to have...I think you should submit this somewhere as a short story and I am sure it would be published!! I loved it, my friend!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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    1. Thank you, Debbie. Someday I'd love to write a book. It's always been a dream, so it's great to hear that you think my prose are worthy!! You just made my day!! Hugs!!

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  26. Kim , this story had me in tears just anticipating how it would turn out. I felt a very strong connection to you as my father too ,had Parkinson’s. From your stories it seemed that his progression was just about 2 years behind your mother’s. I cannot tell you how many times I read ‘there’s no crying at nursing homes’.....crying every time! I was in the same position many a day. As fate would have it my father entered the fifth and final stage of Parkinson’s last fall and passed away February of 2020. So this is my first Christmas without either of my wonderful parents. Like you ,the passing of my Dad brought back the loss of my mother. The loss is so palpable. Neither my daughters or hubby can fill it. Life is funny. Somehow I think your mother was behind your daughter guiding you to that tiny closet. I wonder who built that? He’s connected to this story as well.
    I am so thrilled that you found the China. Here’s to your Mom!
    Merry Christmas my girl.

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    1. Susan, I've read your comment several times over the past week or so, and it touches me deeply. Somehow there is comfort in the sharing. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. It's tough, even when we're expecting it. And suddenly when both parents are gone, all those old feelings come bubbling right back up again. For me, the strength of those feelings was very unexpected. I don't think the state of the world this year helped either. The distractions and ability to get out, to socialize, to shop and forget our sorrows a bit was not there. I'm sure that did not help as you moved through the grieving process. I really do hope that 2021 gives you more of an opportunity to do that as you continue to remember your parents. I wish you nothing but blessings, good health and peace in the new year and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me here. Happy New Year, Susan! ☺️

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    2. Happy New Year Kim! Keep writing my girl.

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    3. Thank you so much, Susan! I wish you nothing but the best in 2021. Thank you for all your kind words and support. It means a great deal.

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