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Grief surprises me now and then when I'm reminded that both of my parents, who I loved so much, are gone. I, like everyone else who has ever lost a loved one, feel this loss even more so during the holidays.

Mom loved Christmas so much and every year she planned a "Grandchildren's Christmas Party" complete with handmade invitations mailed to each child. She loved making gift bags with little toys she found at the dollar store, Little Debbie's Christmas cakes, chocolate candies and peppermint sticks. The grandkids who couldn't make it down for the party would receive their gift bag in the mail along with their Christmas gift. My Mom was a wonderful woman.

My Dad's old Southern Pacific jacket and his favorite blue sweater that he often wore are hanging in the closet beside my own clothes. Sometimes, when I'm looking for something to wear, I'll reach in and gather them to me in a tight hug. I always tell Dad that I love him as I do this. It's a poor substitute for the real thing but it's all I have for now. I have no doubt that someday, when I die, he and Mom be first in line to welcome me home. It will be so good to see them again.

But I don't mean to be a downer. Despite missing my parents, life is good. I'm enjoying my job and my family too, although they all live some distance from us. Each day is a gift and every once in a while I give myself a mental shake and remind myself to enjoy the good times and to not dwell on the past too much. And I move on from there.