Christmas cake


Every year, my sister makes a Christmas cake. That’s our family tradition. This year my sister decided she couldn’t make a Christmas cake – the person who loved it the most is no longer with us.

That’s the thing about Christmas – the juxtaposition of joy and pain, family and lonely, bounty and empty, gain and loss. Honestly, until this year I was complacent – I’d never lost enough to be able to understand loss. Now I do.

How do I, how do any of us, balance celebration and desolation? How do we do what we did before when nothing is as it was before? What do those old family traditions mean when the family members who made those traditions are no longer there?

We need to remember that the loss is transitory, we will meet again. In this lifetime, we need to find a way to keep on loving, giving, laughing, inspiring, living – through Christmas (and because living is for life, not just for Christmas) into the new year and for the rest of our lives. Let’s make our lives the celebration.

Every year, I go through angst about the fact I love cake and I love Christmas but I don’t love Christmas cake. This year, I remembered that last year I made a huge vegan carrot cake with lemon frosting and everyone loved it. For now, that will be our new tradition.

Vegan carrot cake

The end result, featuring an unintentional ‘yellow snow’ effect due to the buttercream :)

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10 responses »

  1. Did your father not make those traditions so you could carry them on in his absence? He would have assumed he’d die before his children. His traditons are something he left you, to remind you he is still here, always. And that you would pass them down to your children, and beyond.
    P.S. I love Christmas, and I love cake, but I don’t like Christmas cake either!

  2. Lian – nicely put. It’s true, until you suffer loss or come very close to it, it’s unimaginable.

    As a result, I often grapple with the whole idea of living in the moment versus worrying about all the trivial day-to-day stuff like work, money etc.

    But somebody told me that Buddhist monks meditate with bones in front of them to remind them of their mortality. Of course I don’t do that, but I do have “things” about me that remind me I won’t be here forever. It’s not morbid, it’s just a tool I use to stop me fretting about meaningless stuff. I can’t share what those “things” are, they’re too personal.


  3. I struggle with Christmas too for the very reasons you talk about. The thing I struggle with is that life, the world, the universe, it all goes on after you’ve lost someone. I’ve always been able to relate to the W. H. Auden poem ‘Stop All the Clocks’. The first Christmas after you’ve lost someone is always the hardest. Mine felt quite ridiculous, but I had to remind myself that they wouldn’t want us to stop.

    I’m totally with you on the Christmas cake thing btw! :)

  4. Such a beautiful post, I got goosebumps.

    I will be thinking of you all this Christmas, I know it will be impossibly hard. I’ll raise a glass to your Dad along with mine.

    Sending much love your way xxx

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