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CCFB News» December 2023

Planting Seeds“Holly Jolly Holiday Season”

12/06/2023 @ 8:30 am | By Katrina Milton, Director of Ag Literacy

Christmas was always my mom’s favorite time of the year. We started decorating the house Dec.  1 and left our decorations up until Candlemas on Feb. 2. My mom’s decorations included a tree in every room, lights hung on the outside, animatronic window displays, a Christmas village on the fireplace, and holiday music playing nonstop. My favorite part of the holiday wasn’t the decorations or the delicious food she made – it was how my mom made the entire season special and festive.


My mom passed away in 2016, and it was difficult to celebrate the first holiday after her death. I didn’t put up a tree, I didn’t decorate, and I didn’t even wear a Christmas sweater.


All other holidays were just as depressing: no homemade birthday cake, no giant Thanksgiving turkey, no colorful dyed eggs for Easter. The holidays wouldn’t have been the holidays even with a cake or turkey or eggs. What was missing was my mom.


A year or so after her death, I slowly started celebrating holidays again, even though my mom wasn’t there to celebrate with me. I think what changed my mind about celebrating was her birthday.  I still wanted to celebrate her birthday and honor her on her special day. Then, I decided to make her Polish cucumber salad recipe, mizeria, for Thanksgiving.

The next year, I finally put up a Christmas tree. Instead of having the “Blue Christmas” Elvis sings about, I decorated my Christmas tree blue, which was my mom’s favorite color.


Every year since, I have expanded my holiday celebrating ever-so-slightly. I now put up multiple trees (I’m up to three), I decorate, and I wear holiday sweaters every chance I get.


My mom would have wanted me to celebrate the holidays, to decorate, and to be happy. Not having her with me to celebrate is difficult, but carrying on our family’s traditions and honoring my mom’s memory is important to me.

I know that I’m not alone in remembering loved ones during the holiday season – everyone has lost someone important to them, whether it’s a grandparent, parent, sibling, or friend.


I hope you celebrate the holidays with your loved ones this year. I’ve already started a holiday bucket list: go ice skating, visit a Christmas market, see the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World, take photos at Garfield Park Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show, enjoy a Christmas lights show, and last but not least, spend quality time with friends and family. I also plan on putting up LOTS of Christmas decorations and drinking a few gallons of hot chocolate with marshmallows. (Did you know that marshmallows are made with gelatin, a protein made from animal collagen, usually from cows and pigs, and chocolate is made from beans from fruit of cacao trees?)


Don’t forget to spend your time off of school and work living life and having fun. Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.


Happy Holidays!

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