It sat in a block on the sideboard, heavy and foreign.

My grandmother’s cerulean eyes sparkled as I peeled off my layers.


“I have so many fun things planned for us,” she said.

She always did.

Every weekend.


“First we melt this big block of wax…”

Her excitement simply couldn’t be contained.


“Then, we’ll WHIP it! With the hand mixer!”

There in her entryway, these moments… our moments together… were all that mattered.

To both of us.

Coat, complete with mittens, connected by a long string that ran through the sleeves so that I wouldn’t lose them.

“And once it’s all fluffy, we’ll cover this form with it!”

Those eyes connecting with mine, her joy was just too big for her.

“Before it dries, we’ll sprinkle it with GLITTER! It will be a yule log for the table!”

This is how our winter weekends began. Yule log or Christmas trees made from last season’s J.C. Penny catalog.

The weekends stretched before us, just waiting to be filled with projects and the kind of love that filled her house so full that I’m certain it leaked from beneath the doors and warmed the outside.

This is my second Christmas season without her.

Last year, grief turned everything to a muddy gray. The lights, the songs, the joy of Christmas were heavy and intrusive and my mere existance was set to auto pilot.

I thought I understood grief. I’ve lived a lifetime without my father. Grief has always occupied a space inside me that’s low and throbbing. My grief there from so early on, like a ring deep within a tree.

But this. This is different. This guts me.  There’s a stabbing pain that jars me when I least expect it.

When I see the perfect chunky silver glitter that I just know would glisten perfectly on whipped wax. Or when that Restoration Hardware tome cries out to be turned into a tree. In an instant, the pain in my chest is so intense that I have to sit down. And remember to breathe.

I thought I knew grief.

I thought it would fade and live alongside my grief over losing my father.

I suspect I was wrong.

Perhaps grief is like a snowflake. Each loss different from the next. Each individual crystal so amazingly unique.


  1. Kathy West

    Wisdom in in every word….I suspect you are right dear friend and in this moment you honored not only your loved ones but many more with every word etched. As now the memories of your devoted readers’ loved ones are now bubbling in the memories you have stirred and awakened for each of us. A Merry Christmas to you and yours…hugs

  2. angela

    I’m crying. Just this morning, I was writing out Christmas cards (I know!) and thought about how I need to get rid of a battered, little address book. The names and addresses have changed so many times, and it’s barely relevant to my list anymore. But I couldn’t toss it. My grandma’s address is the first one I wrote in there, and I just can’t let it go yet.
    Much love to you, this season. She must have been a special grandmother, indeed, if she can make you look at glitter fondly :)

  3. Elaine A.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Nichole. Much love to you as you remember your dear Grandmother. And such beautiful memories they are…

  4. Sara

    Love this and love you. Your grandmother will always be your special snowflake (and not in the asshat way.. lol). Love you! <3

  5. Sherri

    i am so very glad that you wrote this, my friend… it had to be difficult, but enlightening at the same time. I know how very deeply you adored your grandmother and how deeply she is missed. Possibly more this year than last, in many ways. You are carrying her spirit forward through your love and generosity of heart. Love you…xoxoxo

  6. Peggy

    And now I’m all teary eyed. Beautifully said. Let this be a reminder to us how a grandmother can make such an impact in one’s life. Your relationship with her was a special one.

  7. Molly

    My grandmother died when I was six and I still miss her terribly. She made everything better, ya know? Christmas was no exception. I’m so sorry for your loss. Grief and the holidays are so difficult.

  8. Yuliya

    You are indeed carrying her spirit forward. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  9. Liz

    This is perfect. My grandma and I were incredibly close. We thought the same way, spoke the same way, and both of us were avid journalers. People who knew her often say “you remind me so much of Nancy”, when I hear that I break a little. Imshe was amazing. She passed away a decade ago and I still actively miss her every day. I wish she knew the man I married, and she would delight in my children’s happiness, and call them “little shits” (with a smile) when they were naughty. :) Saying grief is like a snowflake is the best I’ve heard it put. Thank you for this. :)

  10. This is so true, and beautiful, N. This is the second Christmas without my mother, and last year, I muddled through. This year, it’s all a reminder of how she loved twinkling lights on everything. It’s more joy than sadness this year, but they’re side by side. And the tears that come, are a mix of both. We gave her a fantastic last Christmas, and we miss her in all the ones after that. Love to you. xo

  11. I’ve always loved your way with words and you speak of grief with truth. This is how I feel about Mother’s Day – a day that’s supposed to be all about me, but never is, because it’s really all about my mom and why she’s not here. Blessed to reconnect with your writing…

  12. Dunwoody

    this very nice way with this Mother’s Day

  13. Best In This Come

  14. Gen Lamay

    pic and looking the same

  15. East Cobb

    one time its the best

  16. its is to good

  17. alex

    Looking good in this one for all

  18. im i the usa for 30 years and This is how I feel about Mother’s Day

  19. thanks for this one

  20. Randy

    this is what we all in , for this moment

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