This time of year always brings constant thoughts of my mom. I think of how much she liked to get out all the Christmas decorations and listen to her Luther Vandross Christmas CD. I have been struggling with her loss this year more than ever before. Around Thanksgiving, I started to wonder why I feel a compulsion to maintain my mother’s traditions. Why do I feel like I need to make a huge meal with all of the same dishes she always made and with all the fancy serving dishes, teacups, and heirloom tablecloths? Wouldn’t it just be easier to have simpler food done up ahead and have people eat from disposable plates and utensils to cut down on the amount of preparation and clean-up I have to do? The answer, of course, it yes, but would that make me as happy. I thought about all of this for the first time this year. In the past I just did what she always did because I thought that was the thing to do. I realize now that I need to make a decision about my life. I love my mother and I miss her everyday, but I have to live my life – not hers. I do want to do things in my life that I know would make her proud, but not at the cost of my own happiness. I am going to try to strike a better balance between what she would have done and what is right for me. I can’t live in the shadow of her memory for the rest of my life, and I have discovered that she wouldn’t have wanted that.