My dad always said that what attracted him to my mother was that she was always happy and smiling.
Her personality and positive attitude filled our home with joy.
If something exciting happened, my mother would be the first person we would call, and if we were dealing with a difficult situation, her wisdom and faith always made us feel that everything would be all right.
My mother’s cancer diagnoses changed our lives forever, but it also taught us that even during difficult times, you can find pockets of happy moments.
We spent a lot of time at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and because my mother was always so sweet and kind to everyone, the nurses loved her. They would go out of their way to make her comfortable.
Chemo would sometimes keep my mother up at night, and it wasn’t usual for the nurses to walk into the room at 3 a.m. and catch me siting on the edge of her bed.
We would be holding hands and laughing about something we were talking about.
I treasure those conversations as well as all the hugs my mother gave me throughout my life. One of the things I miss the most about her is the affectionate way she would reach out to hold my hand.
Sometimes we take the people closest to us for granted and we don’t let them know what they mean to us.
My mother’s gift to us — and one that will stay with me forever — is the unconditional love she gave her family.
Her passing was the most difficult thing I have ever been through. What gave me comfort was knowing that she knew what she meant to me, and that there were no loving words left unsaid.
Christmas was my mother’s favorite holiday and the Cuban traditions always trigger memories that make me emotional. I honor her by continuing to share how she loved me with my family.
We always think of gifts as something we can hold in our hands, but the most important gift you can give your family is the most important gift you can give your family is the love and memories you leave behind.
Every time I light a candle I think of her and I allow her spirit to comfort me.
The holidays are for being with those you love and that feeling of family unity that you experience during these special celebrations should continue throughout the year.
I wish you all the gift of love, the gift of peace, and may God bless your heart with joy all year long.
Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, and certified parent coach with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom.
Follow her on Twitter @ PowerOfFamily, Instagram mlsalcinespoweroffamily or contact her on her blog FamilyLifeandFindingHappy.com.