Saturday Morning Message: Holiday Memories

Author: Carol Lane

Bonnie Jo's Jack-o-lantern


Good Morning,

With the beginning of October, the fall holidays come quickly. We all celebrate differently and this week’s survivor responses show the unique ways some of us celebrated some of those holidays with our loved ones. The lead picture this week comes from Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew. I thought it was a very patriotic way to celebrate Halloween and our loved ones. I hope you enjoy this week’s Saturday Morning Message.

Remember, you can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. I look forward to hearing from you. My email address is

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

I was thinking about how TAPS has grown since the first time I contacted the TAPS Helpline. Now there are many programs, events, chats, and publications that are available to support survivors with a choice of ways to help heal. In an e-conversation with Ellen, fiance of David, she brought up the question for this week. What TAPS event, program or other experience has meant the most to you?  She thought it would be interesting to share what TAPS has done to nourish our souls. We look forward to reading your responses. 

Would you like to share a question or read how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? I would love to gather some thoughts. It can be helpful to read and hear how others cope. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by emailing I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address. In order to have your reply included in the next week’s message, it is best to send your answers to me by Tuesday morning of the following week. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.


♫ Song for the Week

Cheryl, mother of Jack, sent a list of songs that she said helped her, so this week I chose one of them, Take Me As I Am by FM Static for this week’s song of the week. 

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at I directly receive all responses that are sent to this address.


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: What is a holiday tradition that you enjoyed with your loved one?

From Kelsey, mother of Michael: My son didn't enjoy traditional holiday celebrations. I had to find creative ways for us to celebrate. For Thanksgiving we made tacos and watched a Japanese TV show called Sasuke. It shows everyday athletes competing in an obstacle course, much like the show we have here, American Ninja Warrior.

We watched the original Japanese program and had our favorite competitors whom we cheered for with much vigor! I have been unable to watch Sasuke since his death. It is painful to even think about. Now for Thanksgiving I prefer my tacos in solitude.

From Essie, mother of Tysheena: The most favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Tysheena and I would get up early and start to prepare the food. Our last Thanksgiving together was 2014. Tysheena made the lasagna for me and baked my signature pan two-layer cake. I taught Tysheena how to cook starting at 13 years old. She and her siblings would always stand or sneak into the kitchen and peek at what I was doing, so when she turned 13, I started using her to help me prepare certain things. Tysheena was a foodie and loved to eat, so she enjoyed her time in the kitchen with me. Once she joined the Army she missed Thanksgiving with us in 2015, but was home for her other favorite holiday, Christmas. When she came home from boot camp for Christmas break we left the tree bare so she could decorate it. She loved Christmas mostly because that was our day. We, meaning just our immediate family. We would spend that day together. She would help me prepare our meal not as big as Thanksgiving, but close. Neither of these two holidays will ever be the same again.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: I don't know how this started, but on Christmas Day only Wes and I would make sure we had a fresh pineapple to cut into and eat. On New Year's Day, we would crack open—or try to crack open—a coconut. We also would enjoy hot cocoa with marshmallows right after decorating the Christmas tree. 

From Samantha, fiancé of Preston: Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. So when Preston and I started dating and moved in together, I kind of roped him into my obsession. Part of me wants to think that he loved Christmas as much as I did, but realistically he was probably doing it for me.

So yeah, I went a bit crazy with the snowman dish towels, stockings, and gingerbread houses. We lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor. I didn’t even know if we were allowed to have a real tree, but Preston and I picked one out together each year. He knew I wouldn’t be happy with a fake tree. He joked and said that because I got to have my way with all the other decorations, he got to pick out all of the ornaments and stuff for the tree. That’s how we ended up with a red, white, and blue Christmas tree. His beret was on the top for a star.

Every Christmas, he made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and other sweet treats. He always waited until Christmas Eve to start baking, so he was normally up late into the night. I always fell asleep, but once the clock turned midnight and it was Christmas Day, he woke me up and we opened presents sitting around our patriotic tree. It was magical, honestly. The rest of the world was quiet, it was just the two of us, the only lights on were from the tree, and we were so in love.

It just so happens that he died three days before Christmas last year. I made a promise to him that I would love Christmas again. I don’t know how or when, but I’m going to try.

If you would like to send a message thanking the participant in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to me at and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along.

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

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

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).