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Five years ago, today, my mom became whole again. She found peace after a long, valiant battle against Alzheimer’s. She gained her angel wings. December 15, 2012.

I try to take this day off every year. I prefer to spend it quietly, alone or with my daughter, allowing my mind to go where it will. If tears come, let them come; I really don’t want to be distracted by the minutia of the outside world, nor do I want to hide my emotions whatever they may be.

I started the day with a cup of hot coffee enhanced with a generous pour of Bailey’s – one of my mom’s favorite things!  I planned to spend the day baking as I often have on this day over the past five years. Some of my best, happiest (and earliest) memories are of December days spent baking Christmas cookies.

Mom loved to bake and when I was a child, the variety of beautiful cookies on her holiday trays was something to behold. Her cookies were part of the magic of Christmas. My love of baking is no doubt a result of those fond memories and of course, her influence. For years I’ve enjoyed recreating many of the recipes that have been handed down for generations, as well as adding some new ones.

I didn’t rush today. I didn’t get as much done as I had planned, but I really enjoyed the day. I listened to Christmas music, wrapped some presents, had lunch with Jess (sharing some laughs as we always do), and spent a good bit of time simply sitting with my thoughts. I cried and I smiled, thinking of years gone by, and tonight, I poured a glass of wine in her memory.

Another year has passed, and this year, I lost my dad as well. This will be my sixth Christmas without Mom and first without Dad. I’m sad, but there are also moments of peace in knowing they are with their beloved parents and others who have gone before them – the ones they loved so much. Most importantly, they are free of pain. And today, I felt both of them with me…