Celebrating with Loved Ones

By Cathy Hollister | April 11th, 2023

Holidays with families have their ups and downs

A large extended family around a dinner table. By Monkey Business Images. Poet and writer Cathy Hollister reflects on family gatherings and holiday celebrations – memorable events that serve up “comforts and jolts.”

Poet and writer Cathy Hollister reflects on family gatherings and holiday celebrations – memorable events that serve up “comforts and jolts.”

Family gatherings, holiday celebrations. Most families come together for important events like birthdays and weddings and I always tell myself that it will be a great time! Wonderful to see everyone and catch up. But sometimes, once gathered, the tired old baggage begins to unpack. To be sure family can be an anchor, a source of comfort. No one knows you like your family. They understand your personal history, past hurts and past joys. They know how to make you laugh and understand when you want to have a few moments by yourself. But it’s a fact that all families are complicated and family gatherings are the same.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my grandparents coming to my house on Christmas morning. I can still remember my excitement as I opened presents, with my siblings, parents, and grandparents sharing the special day with me. I also remember the less savory gatherings. Old scars that never really healed may be triggered by a single word or look, and touch everyone’s mood.

Years later, a taste, smell, or sight can recall some of those scars. A taste of pie that Grandma always made on Thanksgiving, hearing of a beloved aunt’s fight with depression, or feeling sticky fingers after picking blueberries. Other sensations, the smell of roast turkey, Christmas tree lights, even hearing the silly song, “Happy Birthday,” fills me with unbidden warmth.

In my poem, “Just A Slice,” I recall some of the comforts and jolts of past family gatherings. I carry both with me, deep inside. Those gatherings have become a part of me, helped make me sympathetic and strong. Family is precious, challenging, and roots me. Families may nurture, smother, inspire, or enrage. Perhaps all of these; maybe all at once. I suppose I am similar to many mature women remembering family gatherings. I may have feelings of anger, joy, self-pity, gratitude, all encompassed in love. The very definition of family.

Cathy Hollister is an older writer whose poetry often explores beauty and hope found in every stage of life. Her work has been in Open Door Magazine, Beyond Words Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, Poet’s Choice anthologies, and others. Her new book, Seasoned Women, is available from Poet’s Choice. She lives in middle Tennessee. Find her online at www.cathyhollister.com.

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