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.


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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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Join Us for the Next Virtual Seminar

Please join us for our September Virtual Military Survivor Seminar, September 18 and 19. This two-day event will begin on Friday evening with Sharing Groups and conclude with a session on meditative movement. Activities begin at 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday and will be presented at no cost to you. Our sessions will be led by experts in the field of grief and loss, offering opportunities for you to gain tools and resources. 


The TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar is going virtual. Held October 16-18, you will hear from others who have walked the road you are traveling. Sessions will offer vital information on anxiety, loss and family dynamics, talking to children and more. The grief that follows suicide loss can be uniquely complicated. You are not alone, and we invite you to join us for a time of hope and healing. 

Peer Mentor Training 

Looking for a chance to give back? You've been through the early days of grief and remember how connecting to TAPS was helpful to you. You remember when another reached out a hand to you to share the journey. Now you may be ready to help someone else. TAPS Peer Mentors are survivors who are 18 months beyond their loss and feel ready to be a companion to another. You may even find that opening your heart to another will offer you continued healing as well. Become a TAPS Peer Mentor.

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

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Did you lose your loved on due to an illness loss

If your military loved one suffered with a wound, illness, or injury, please consider taking our new Illness Loss Survivor Survey, so TAPS can honor your loved one through our advocacy efforts.

If you took the survey last year, we ask that you retake it as we've made important updates. Your response could help shape policy and legislation, and direct future TAPS programs and services. To learn more, email

Those who take the survey will receive a discount to the TAPS store for providing this important and valuable feedback. 

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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 800-959-8277.