Saturday Morning Message: Holiday Traditions

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

After the loss of a loved one, many find it hard to observe holidays. Today two articles are shared that talk about reaching for the light through the darkness at this time of year.

Tree Lights

Kim Ruocco wrote a very meaningful article. The list of thoughts she included are listed below. To read the whole article, go to  “Finding New Perspective on Holiday Traditions When You’re Grieving” In the article, Kim talks about the early years in her family without her husband as well as explaining the five principles her family now follows:

1. Incorporate Some Old Traditions

2. Make New Traditions

3. Honor And Remember Your Loved One

4. Respect Each Other’s Grief Journey

5. Be Gentle with Yourself

Traci Voelke shares the story of Hanukkah in her article titled. “In Moments of Darkness, Hanukkah Reminds Us to Search for the Light”. Traci writes, “We light eight candles on the menorah, one for each of the eight days of Hanukkah. The ninth candle on the menorah, the shamash, is lit first and then its flame is distributed to light each of the remaining candles. We keep the shamash candle close to all the other candles so that if one blows out the shamash can relight the extinguished candle.” She compares that with “the family, friends and colleagues who stand behind us and relight our candles when they have seemed to have blown out — when our lights become extinguished. They are the helpers moving us all toward the light and giving hope of a brighter future.”   


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Since this week is a time when people might be away, this might be a good time to collect questions you might have to use for future Saturday Morning Messages. Think about questions you might have about the grieving journey. Sometimes it helps to read how others cope. Also please send songs that are special to you with a few sentences about the song. 

You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. 

♫ Song for the Week 

Caryn, mother of Nathan sent the song of the week which is “Time in a Bottle” sung by Jim Croce. She wrote this song "reminds me that regardless of anything, love is everlasting and we will be back together again someday." 

Answers from Survivors

Wesley Snyder HeadstoneFrom Merry, mother of Wesley: I did something different at Wes's grave this year.  Instead of waiting until Saturday, December 16 for Wreaths Across America, I placed a wreath on his grave complete with a U.S. Marine Corps bear on December 1. Fort Logan National Cemetery allows wreaths and such from December 1 until January 20. I was supposed to go over this morning and celebrate with the throngs, but have decided to do that later. For some reason, I don't want to be there with a big crowd. For me, it's private this year. This could be a tradition now - December 1 is the day to place a wreath of remembrance.

From Carol, mother of Bryon: When Bryon was stationed in California, he called very excited and told me that he had been part of the Marines who handed out toys to children in the Toys for Tots program. So a new tradition I have to honor him is to go to the local Toys for Tots station and write a check for them. We talk for a while and they tell me about the program in our area and how much it helps the children. 


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Visit the TAPS Online Community Calendar for this week's schedule of text and video chats and other offerings. We have a virtual gathering most days of the week. Whether you want to share your story or just read how other survivors are sharing and coping, this online grief support community is a way for you to develop and strengthen your connections with TAPS.

Other Items and Events of Interest

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Celebrating National Mentoring Month

During this National Mentoring Month, we want to express our gratitude for all of our mentors:

  • TAPS Peer Mentors who take their experience as a military survivor and offer support to those new to grief.
  • Military and Legacy Mentors who companion the youngest members of our family, offering a safe and supportive community.

Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn throughout the month, where we will be sharing resources and articles about mentoring, along with quotes and testimonials from our mentors and mentees.

Webinar: Mindfulness as Your Superpower

On Thursday, January 28 at 12 p.m. Eastern, the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing® will present a free webinar, "Mindfulness as Your Superpower."

Mindfulness isn’t just for naturally calm people. It is a superpower that can help us cope with the most challenging emotions—even grief. Using superhero case examples, during this workshop, you will learn how mindfulness can help you navigate loss, improve your health, and cultivate much-needed compassion for your grieving heart. 

Join TAPS At One of Our 2021 Seminars

Registration is now open for our 2021 Regional Seminars and our National Military Survivor Seminar. In - Person and Virtual Opportunities are available.

TAPS Seminars offer a comprehensive model of care that brings together adult survivors of all ages for a weekend of hope and healing. Whether you recently lost your hero, have lived many years without them or are somewhere in between, TAPS Seminars are designed to meet you where you are in your grief journey. 

Breath of Fresh Air with TAPS Outdoors: Breathing In The New Year

TAPS Outdoors wants to help you reconnect with the natural world in simple yet meaningful ways with weekly activities you can do anywhere. (Yes, we really mean anywhere.) Our goal is to connect you with the healing power of nature no matter where you live and give you the tools to make meaning out of your experiences. 

As many of us have experienced in our grief, a year of great loss and challenge can also give way to new life and hope. Join us in January for Breathing In The New Year, as we transition into a new year and explore the wild, forging new paths together in our hearts and set foot on trails we've yet to see. 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

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We're All In This Together

COVID-19 Support and Resources

At TAPS, we’re no stranger to challenging times, and we’re all doing our part to support one another and get through these difficult times together. As always, TAPS is here 24/7, and our team is working hard to provide resources, services and support to surviving military families as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19. For more information or questions, visit our COVID-19 Response and Resources page or please email us at

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Choose TAPS as Your AmazonSmile Charity of Choice

AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit, log in, and select TAPS as your charity of choice. Amazon will give 0.5% of your eligible purchases to TAPS.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the Saturday Morning Message is to foster peer-based connection for support and encouragement.  It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the Saturday Morning Message is edited for spacing considerations, grammatical corrections and may be used in other TAPS publications.  

To subscribe or contribute to the Saturday Morning Message email

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 202-588-8277.