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This year, at Christmas, there are so many things tugging on our hearts.

My husband, Bob’s, dad passed away earlier this year, and his mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. She will miss celebrating with us this year, because she’s having radiation treatments. My mom is also living with lung cancer, and her condition is causing her to become more frail and a bit more disconnected every day.

So, for us, it’s a bittersweet holiday season. We’re still enjoying the process.

After a full day running errands, completing last-minute shopping, as well as some other appointments, we arrived home to find the Brown Truck of Happiness delivered some joy to our front porch. There, among our Amazon boxes from UPS, was another from FedEx.

That FedEx package connected me with a smile from my past. Sandra Terrebonne, a former client who lives in New Orleans, and I had not seen each other since 2007, though we had kept in touch through Facebook. This past Thanksgiving, Sandra posted a picture of a fruitcake she made, while sharing some of her family’s holiday traditions.

I showed the fruitcake picture to Bob, and we talked about how his dad used to make the best fruitcake ever… unfortunately, he never shared that recipe before passing away.

I thanked Sandra for sharing that photo and mentioned that her post caused Bob and me to reminisce about holiday traditions and his dad’s ‘best-ever’ fruitcake. Would she share her recipe with me? She did, and I told her that would be a wonderful tradition for us to start next year. With all we had going on, there wouldn’t be time to make one this season.

I opened that package to find one of Sandra’s homemade fruitcakes, as well as some of her signature peanut butter fudge. The fruitcake is delicious, and the fudge is yummy too! Bob said the cake tasted very familiar. There was a note as well, a tender, loving message that brought tears to our eyes.  

With so many losses and challenges tugging on our hearts this year, Sandra’s unexpected gift, sharing her family tradition, touched our hearts and gave Bob a fond memory of holiday traditions with his dad. This simple, heartfelt gesture filled us with such joy and gratitude.

That, to me, is what Christmas is all about: the love of good friends, family, celebrating life and the shared traditions that give this season it’s meaning.

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