Why the holidays don’t mean as much to me anymore

By Jillian Fernandez


It took three words to change my entire life.


“She has cancer.”


Who knew such a brief phrase could have such a heavy impact? Tears slowly streamed down my face as I realized what it meant. This disheartening phrase is all it took for my once exultant self to transform into a despondent mess.  Once the word “cancer” reached my ears, I associated it with death, dying, and most of all anguish.


My seemingly healthy mother had cancer. Stage four-lung cancer to be exact, one of the most putrid diseases I have ever witnessed in my life. The first thing I asked was “why her?” Out of all the people in the world, why was it my loving, sweet, encouraging mother who had to receive a death sentence? She didn’t smoke so it was mysterious as to how she even acquired the disease, yet the doctor claimed that it had been spreading for years. I had to accept that she was dying everyday of my young existence. My world collapsed.  


December 21st will mark six years since her passing. These last six years that I have lived without my mother have been a journey—the most difficult being when I realized that I could never hear her voice again, embrace her warmth, and feel her security. With the holidays nearing, my heart breaks not only because the anniversary of her death is four days before Christmas, but also because Christmas was our favorite holiday.


Every year after Thanksgiving, we’d decorate our tree. Christmas tunes played in the background as we sang along to “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bells” and ornamented our artificial tree with dazzling, colorful lights. Her joyful self laid out the nativity scene on the living room table along with the cutesy “Christmas village” figurines. These moments are what I miss most.


Holidays are no longer the same. There are no more Christmas decorations. There are no more Christmas songs. It is just another day.  






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