How to Fill the Empty Seat at the Holiday Table     

by | Dec 12, 2018

Is someone missing from your holiday gatherings this year? It seems there is always an empty chair at the table. Someone you just lost or lost many years ago, someone who is across the country or simply at another gathering -whatever the reason, the chair is still empty.

The holidays are full of triggers, memories that flood into our minds and can change our mood instantly.

Sometimes it’s another loss that creates the trigger – and not just the human kind. Today, I lost my fifteen-and-a-half-year-old corgi.

Yesterday Casey was as normal as an old dog could be. He took his morning walk, very slowly of course; he ate breakfast and supper, special toppings required to get him started of course; and he herded me around the kitchen as any good corgi should.

But as we were tucking in for the night, odd sounds sent us into emergency mode as he had a seizure. After emergency consultations at the animal hospital, a few hours of sleep, followed by an early morning trip to our vet, it was time to say goodbye.

For me, this loss is connected to the loss of my mother in the fall of 2017. She lived with us for fifteen years – you can already see the connection – and always said that Casey was her dog during the day and mine at night after I arrived home from work.

Mother’s chair will still be empty this year, and now there’s an empty spot on the floor – in every room in the house – where Casey should be laying.

How to Fill the Empty Spot in Your Heart

When memories chase each other around trying to get our attention, don’t chase them away. Use them to help you identify some way to honor their memory.

Begin new traditions by making memorial gifts to an organization they cared about or would have meaning for them.

My mother loved to read, taught literacy and GED in her younger years and used to say losing her eyesight was the one thing she feared most. For her, a memorial gift to the Literacy Council of Tyler is the greatest way to honor her life and example, one that always had a book or newspaper close at hand.

Casey came to us as a puppy I purchased from an old fellow with a mama corgi and two pups at a stall in Canton. When he came to live with us, we had an old white dog that had found us early one April morning, then a scared and hungry puppy. After we lost the old white dog, Casey was king of the household for many years. At least until recently when we adopted a middle-aged schnauzer mix from SPCA.

Casey understood immediately there were a few things he needed to teach the new family member and did so dutifully. So, a gift to the SPCA will be especially fitting in memory of a great dog, one who understood what it meant to be found and welcomed into a family.

A Gift That’s Always the Right Size

What about the family member or friend who is miles away, or maybe close but you won’t get to see them this year?  A gift to an organization in their honor is a perfect way to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

What about that someone who has a birthday during the holiday season? Make a gift in their honor and ask the organization to say Happy Birthday on the acknowledgment card.  They’ll be glad to do it.

Memorial and honorarium gifts are appropriate any time of year. Just ask someone who raises needed funds for an organization. They’ll thank you before you get the check in the mail!

It’s a gift that always fits, doesn’t need to be returned, is never the wrong color and goes with everything.  Knowing you honored them in a special way might make that seat at the table or spot on the floor not quite so empty.

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  1. Nancy Crawford

    Great article, Dawn and I am so sorry for you loss of Casey.

    • T Michael Ogg Sr

      Your PASSION for always being mindful of others is always in the forefront !
      You have no equal !!
      May God continue to bless as you lead others to a better understanding of GIVING

  2. Christina

    Thank you, Dawn. I loved “it’s a gift that always fits, doesn’t need to be returned, is never the wrong color and goes with everything.”


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