“‘Tis the season to be jolly,” and all the rest. You are making and checking your gift-giving list. You are trying to make as many things merry and bright as you possibly can, but you cannot shake the feeling that this is not just another holiday season. The holidays are just not as cheerful as they would be if the empty seats at the table were filled with the presence of your lost loved ones. Whether it is one or more loved ones lost, the weight of their absence is often more heavily felt during the most wonderful time of the year. Their missing kisses, hugs, warmth, smile, and good-humor is magnified this time of year. Yet, no matter how much loved ones are missed, it is important to realize just how much of a vapor life is. So while you still have breath in your body, it is important that you live and find the joy that remains here: the smile of a child, the dawn of each new day, children at play, the spirit of giving, the birth of a baby, wedding bells, the encouraging words of those that give comfort, or more importantly, the peace that surpasses all understanding. While it is okay to move forward, to live, to enjoy your life without your dear loved one by your side and to find happiness in new joys and experiences, it is also okay to grieve as long as you need to. You may never get over the loss of a loved one (and you never have to), but you can get through it and go on with your life. Mourning is a temporary event that becomes a little less familiar with each passing day, or month, or year. As mourning reaches its end, the fondness of memories can be reminisced with a smile instead of a tear, with honor instead of pain, and with gratefulness to God for the gift that was the presence and connection you were favored to have had with your loved one. So while the empty seat at the table may reflect a deep hole in your heart, it can also or will hopefully begin to reflect your heart’s abundance of precious memories of happier times when laughter came easier and smiles were brighter.