Saturday Morning Message: Including Our Loved Ones In Our Holiday Traditions

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

During this time of year, we experience shorter days and prolonged darkness. In addition, we are also dealing with the restrictions that come with COVID-19 which may make the holiday season more difficult. Many of us illuminate our homes with candles to help us cope with the reduced light outside. This week the opening picture is a beautiful candle, so we can remember that there are ways we can light our lives and connect with others through TAPS.

Holiday candle

One way you can stay in touch with your TAPS Family while in your own home is to enter a care group or one of our Zoom or text chats in the Online Community. You are also welcome to call the TAPS helpline at 202.588.8277 (TAPS) anytime you need support. Remember, with TAPS you are never alone.

This week survivors wrote about how they have developed holiday traditions to include their loved ones who have passed. I think their responses are very creative. Thanks to all who responded this week and those who read the Saturday Morning Message. May you find light in the coming week.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

How do you include your loved one or the memory of your loved one into your holidays/holiday traditions?


Michael's Tree

From Betty, mother of Michael: This will be the 5th Christmas season without my son, Michael, and the first, since his death, that a Christmas tree will be in our home. Michael died less than a week after returning to base following our family’s Christmas gathering, so I chose to savor those last days together like a freeze frame in my mind.

But if ever there was a year “We Need a Little Christmas”, it would be this one! So, I decided to start a new tradition. I gave Michael his own tree, topped with the paper plate angel he made in pre-school and adorned with all the handmade ornaments from his childhood, as well as the ones he received in his adult life. And, I’m adding new ornaments from places I’ve gone “with him” since his death, including a TAPS Expedition to Machu Picchu. Each year I will look forward to hanging the new ornament(s) and remember that “Love Lives On”. 

Ryan's Tree

From Victoria, mother of Ryan: A few years back, I made a memory tree. My Ryan sits just below the star along with all my other loved ones who are no longer here.


From Robin, spouse of Alex: I've been doing a lot of crafting during the pandemic. This will be our 4th Christmas without Alex. I've decided to make ornaments or small decorated canvases and include “Love, Alex” or “Love, Daddy” with his signature. 

John's Tree

From Ginny, spouse of John: Keeping our memories alive is important to our family. Talking about good times and reliving experiences like enjoying their favorite foods or places. My husband even has his own Christmas tree complete with his stinky flight boots underneath. I used to hate the smell of jet fuel, but now I miss it. Holidays are hard but we keep him present and at the center of it all.


We Welcome Your Comments

If you would like to send a note commenting on one or all of the responses in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to each contributor. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

What are you going to do to treat yourself for getting through the holiday season?

The holidays bring us a lot of joy, but after loss this can be one of the toughest seasons of the year for us as survivors. What do you do to reward yourself for overcoming the toughness of this time of year - do you buy yourself presents or take time for yourself? Maybe your reward is allowing yourself to find peace and joy in the season. We would love to read your responses.

In order to have your reply considered for the following week’s edition, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning to me at Thank you to everyone responding this week and to those who read this message!


Song for the Week


notes icon

This week's song, "The First Noel", came from Lydia Joy, mother of Carl who wrote: “This is from December 2012. Carl played in this concert, even though you can't see him in the video. The mayor served as guest conductor.” 

TAPS Spotify Playlist: A survivor once suggested we include a song of the week, which has now become a biweekly feature. One of our contributors, Andy, father of Danny, makes a free playlist on Spotify of the songs that appear in the Saturday Morning Messages along with a few other songs special to him. The playlist is called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Songs of Love and Remembrance.

Favorite Holiday Songs: In next week's Saturday Morning Message, since it is our last edition before the Christmas holiday and new year, we will include seasonal songs. If you have a favorite holiday song that you would like to share, please email that to me at by Tuesday morning, December 15, with a note about why the song is special to you. We will publish all holiday songs received in next week's edition.


Related Stories

gold star tree

Article: The Gold Star Tree: A Holiday Memorial to Our Fallen Heroes

We love to look on as other people take photos, stand and salute, say a prayer, dry a few tears and find their own loved one pictured on an ornament.

murphy Tree

Article: A Life Remembered, A Tradition Continued

Michael’s tree is a simple and loving way one surviving military family remembers their loved one and finds comfort during the holiday season.


Video: Creating New Holiday Traditions while Honoring the Past

Video recording discussion on creative ways to make this holiday season more meaningful in your grief journey.


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).