It’s the holidays—time to give to others and spread some joy, and I can do both in one fell swoop in recommending a book I recently discovered. I ambled up to the author’s table at the NFDA (National Funeral Director’s Association) Convention in Philadelphia in October and happily met someone more like me than the vendor selling embalming solution (no offense to embalming solution vendors).

Allison Gilbert’s book, Passed and Present, was just published, and she was a pure delight. Her fourth book on the subject of loss, she writes from experience, and is as happy and high-spirited as they come.

Her book is 85 ideas for how to keep a loved one’s memory alive in your life. There are ideas for the holidays, of course, but mostly they are for everyday opportunities, because she noticed that when she started incorporating memories into her daily life, she was overall a happier person. It’s not just a saying that people live on in our hearts. They are always there, so it makes logical sense to act like it, as in be in action… in some sensory way… to keep those beloved memories alive.

Passed and Present Ornament ideaI got immediate gratification from opening her book again today. This was one of her ideas for December.

“Buy a new ornament in memory of your loved one. Hang it on the tree.”

Hmm, hard to beat that for simplicity, right? And you know what? I instantly decided to go get an ornament for my father, and that instantly made me happy. Totally out of the blue. Wasn’t thinking about my Dad in that moment and certainly wasn’t thinking of doing one of these projects today. Frankly, getting this blog post done was the only thing on my mind.

And now I’m tickled — I mean tickled!!!—knowing I’m going to treat myself to a New Ornament for Dad. Or perhaps I’ll make one, who knows. Just because he hasn’t been here for seven Christmases doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a new ornament, what kind of cheapskates are we?

If you’re missing someone in your life, this book is page after page of ways to channel that love into something that will bring you joy and make you smile. We can’t stop missing someone and feeling some sorrow at times, but we are always able to get in action on it, and turn it around into something comforting and sweet.

I can’t wait to post a picture after the holidays of that Dad Ornament I’m going to get. It already has made me more excited for Christmas—and like I said, I wasn’t remotely maudlin about it to begin with. Sometime you don’t even realize how much you miss someone until you let the reality of them back into your life for a minute.

Memories — such a joy.