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Intangible Gifts

November 29th, 2015 by judytalks

Free gifts Are Especially Nice At Christmas

The brain-wracking task of what to get people at Christmas puts everyone in a bad mood.

Something practical or something pretty. What did they get last year? How about a gift card?

Maybe a fantastic dinner and a show.

There’s a way out of this dilemma.

There are some gifts that can be given any time for any reason. They’re free and are generally appreciated by everyone who receives them. They are the intangible gifts, the giving of those things that have no price tag, and can be given anytime.

These gifts are appreciated whenever they are given, but are especially nice to give to someone who is grieving and in deep need of heartfelt and loving consideration.

Holidays aren’t happy, exciting affairs when you’re mourning. There’s no feeling of joy, no urge to celebrate with friends or family. There’s often lingering pain and a sense of isolation that accompanies mourning, especially when all around you are celebrating and you feel sad. It’s just a period of time to get through and move on.

When someone you care about is in bereavement, here are 5 intangible gifts that may be given over and over, any time of the year, and are always joyfully received.

  1. Give your time
  2. Give your energy
  3. Give your ideas
  4. Give your support
  5. Give your love

How can these precious gifts be given?

First, stay close-by. Grievers feel isolated and unsociable. Drop by, phone, email or text regularly, just to say hi.

Be a good listener. Often, well-meaning friends want to give advice. But careful listening gives the other person a chance to say what’s really on their mind.

Extend invitations to gatherings and offer to pick them up.

Run errands together. Trips to the grocery store, library, dry cleaners, pharmacy or bank can include a quick stop for lunch or coffee.

Plan an afternoon for baking, wrapping gifts, or doing some decorating together.

Talk about the person who died. If you knew and miss that person, say so.

Suggest a small memory item for the holiday they celebrate, such as a tree ornament or a donation in the deceased person’s name.

Again, stay close and in touch. All the intangible gifts can be given over and over again.


For more tips and ideas about grief at holiday time, or just in general, click on the Articles tab.

Stay well,


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

December 18th, 2014 by judytalks

For most people.

For someone who’s grieving. it’s awful.

It’s difficult to be joyful when there are tears streaming down your face, and there’s an acute ache in your heart.

The secret is to let it happen. People who love you will understand, and the rest don’t matter right now.

Besides, it’s not healthy to suppress your feelings. Grief has to be felt and expressed. It’s the way to heal.

This Holiday season, try adding one new tradition to your life. You can designate a remembrance to your loved one – like a new ornament for the tree.  Or just start something that sounds interesting – like making a gingerbread house.

When Good Tidings are all around you, it lifts your spirits, if only for a moment.

Have a wonderful season of joy.



December 24, 2012

December 24th, 2012 by judytalks

It’s the day before Christmas, all is quiet, and family plans for Skyping are being finalized. This is the first year ever that all or most of us are not together.

If you forgot to buy books this year, it’s not too late! Two informative, comforting paperbacks, No Time to Grieve and A Child’s Grief are available, as are two Kindle editions of timely information about Money. Getting Your Affairs in Order and It’s Your Money Take Charge of It are handy and affordable. Give yourself or someone else the gift of practical knowledge this Christmas. All are topics that affect our lives, and knowledge is golden.

Go to www.amazon.com/author/judystrong. The items are listed with prices and a short description.

Have a wonderful holiday!


Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 7th, 2012 by judytalks

It’s the season to be jolly – and busy – the time of year when everyone spreads good cheer. Busy people are sometimes grumpy people, but this year I’m hearing sounds of laughter, singing in malls, offers of helpfulness, and acknowledgement of the simple pleasures of the season.

I’m a grief writer, so I’m always concerned about those who have lost a loved one, and find the Holidays difficult. There are many good ideas for giving yourself or someone else comfort while also celebrating with friends and family. There are articles on various websites, including mine, that offer personal ways to experience joy along with some sadness. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

This year, start a new tradition or gift of giving in your loved one’s name.
Make or buy an ornament with the person’s name and/or picture for the tree.
Write a letter or card, telling that person how much they are missed.

Remember that the Holidays will never be quite the same, but your celebration needn’t be without peace or joy. Memories are bittersweet. Have a gift under the tree for your loved one, and one for yourself from him or her. Love doesn’t die. Nurture your spirit and the spirit of the Holiday.

Season’s Greetings,

The Gathering

December 22nd, 2011 by judytalks

Home for the Holidays is a familiar tradition that brings family members together to celebrate the holidays they hold dear. My family gathering begins today, as a couple of my grown children and spouse arrive for a few days of reconnecting and sharing memories, and catching up on the news. It’s amazing that conversations seem to pick up where they left off, and everyone takes comfort in being welcomed and appreciated.

The best family tradition is that of being together and keeping the activities simple. It’s a time to relax, laugh, and exchange the gift of mutual appreciation.

I hope your family gathering is joyous and satisfying.

A very happy holiday to you all,


The Gift of Giving

December 12th, 2011 by judytalks

The time of year for gift giving has arrived. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday and I never will. Couldn’t get me near a mall! But the joy of remembering those we love and who matter to us prevails. I like to spend some time and give thought for the gift I give each one on my list. Spending money is an option. But a sincere and heartfelt gift is often the one you make for a close friend or family member.

The gift of something homemade is usually kept for a long time. Children make gifts in school or at home and the parents keep them in a box for years. I have ornaments on my tree that were made in the 1970’s and ’80’s. Some show signs of wear, but they’ve held up amazingly well. They don’t glitter or shine, but are familiar remembrances to my family of their growing years.

The baked goods we make every year, and only this time of year, speak of tradition, and remind me of the years when my children “helped” me in the kitchen. Eggshells in the batter (they pulverize instantly and there’s no getting them out), too much salt, forgotten flavoring, and lopsided banana bread managed to be consumed, at least a little. One year we had peanut butter cookies sprinkled with red and green sugar, and they tasted great!

Whether you shop, bake, cut and glue, or just invite folks over for cider and conversation, the gift of giving brings warmth and joy, and keeps us connected.

Happy Holidays

Is it time to ornament the tree?

December 2nd, 2009 by judytalks

 I keep my Christmas tree assembled and covered with a sheet all year, alongside the 4 large boxes that hold the rest of the Christmas stuff. My assortment includes items I’ve made myself, gifts from others, and a box of ornaments, many of them made by my children when they were small. All of them are put on the tree every year, where guests and family alike can ooh and aah or just wonder “what in the world is that?” We have ice skates made with paper clips, reindeer fashioned from clothespins – you get the idea. There also are beautiful glass balls, feathery birds, and the whole array of images that grace a tree. The act of decorating my tree each year is the beginning of the Christmas celebration. My memory bank brings to mind the giver or maker of the ornament, its age, if it has suffered any calamities – a little Elmer’s Glue- and how many years I’ve been decorating a home for the Holidays.

Many years ago, I took my youngest son, then about 8, upstairs to the closet where my boxes were kept and said, “Guess what we’re going to do?” Of course, he knew what time of year it was and said, “Is it time to ornament the tree?” I’ve thought of it that way ever since.

When I lived in Minnesota, I appreciated snow on the tree branches and a nip in the air. Now that I live in sunny Arizona, I still keep up all my traditions and have resisted the temptation to decorate a cactus, as some here do.

Fun and festivities are for everyone, but they are especially magical for children. The wonder of stories, sparkly stars and brightly decorated trees light up their lives and make troubles disappear.

That’s true for grownups too. Psychology tells us that when people have something to look forward to, it eases the burden of loss, sadness, calamity, or just a really down day. So keep your cherished keepsakes close at hand. It doesn’t have to be Christmas to ornament your tree.

Here’s to angels with string hair.


Here come the Holidays!

November 13th, 2009 by judytalks

My favorite time of year is approaching. Holiday time means family time. It’s busy, noisy, and thoroughly satisfying. Since my children were small, I start early with baking, decorating and making homemade gifts and ornaments. Some things changed as my family grew and moved away, grandchildren have been added, and my energy level peaked and began to wane years ago. But I still get excited when I take the boxes of treasured holiday items out and begin the celebration.  It’s more than just dried arrangements and colored gourds for Thanksgiving or ornaments and candles for Christmas. It’s memories. The real treasures of life. Dinners with the extended family, Christmas with a sick baby when we just stayed home, handmade quilted ornaments being batted around the room by the cat – our pets had good taste.

My grown kids are already making plans to come to AZ for Christmas. My place isn’t large, but they bunk all over the house. Staying elsewhere is out of the question. They like being together. We talk about the Christmas when their dad was ill and then we move on to other stuff. We all grocery shop, cook, clean up, sight-see and sprawl on the living room floor and watch movies. I also put up a tree. It’s artificial now, but many of the ornaments were made by them when they were very young.

Since I have a book coming out in early Jan., I have a busy time ahead of me. I thrive on “busy” but savor the down times when I can relax and enjoy family time. It’s more than tradition; it’s therapeutic.  Stay connected. It’s good medicine.



January 13th, 2009 by judytalks

A large part of my life is about writing, books, and communicating. My second book came back from my editor with very helpful suggestions for improving the overall quality of my work.
I write on the subject of grief, loss, and the courage to grow. The Holidays are difficult for those who are grieving, but the New Year can bring a fresh outlook and some wonderful tools for moving forward at your own pace. The key is for you to take charge.
The comfort of friends and family often eases the pain of loss this time of year. As I talk with people, I have learned that, though it’s difficult to celebrate, the warmth of traditions and special remembrances gives the spirit a lift.
Whatever you resolve to do or change this New Year, remember to follow your heart and look inside yourself for your own wisdom and truth.

Back to the frozen North

December 22nd, 2008 by judytalks

I moved from Minneapolis, MN. to Mesa AZ. in Oct. 2002. For 6 Christmases, I entertained family members who loved coming to the Valley of the Sun to swim, sightsee in summer clothes or light jackets and not have to shovel snow to get out of the driveway.
This year we flew to the Twin Cities for the Holidays. We were warned that we might be flying into a blizzard, or an ice storm, it would be impossible to land, we’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere, and other interesting possibilities. The trip was uneventful and we landed just fine. But in 6 years, you forget the biting cold, the wind that sucks the breath out of you, and the leg and arm shaking movements you once did automatically to ward off the cold.
Weather conditions are a small matter compared to the fun and excitement of spending Christmas with family in their homes. Grandchildren are relaxed and love to show you their rooms, toys, books, and hamsters. Moms cook best in their own kitchens, and grandparents shine when they can sit comfortably in the living room with kids, cats, dogs, cookies, and storybooks on their laps.
The Holidays are a time for memories – good and bad. Remembering with others who share the same joys and sorrows with you help eneryone stay connected.
Even though I haven’t acclimated to the cold and wind, I wouldn’t miss this Christmas for the world.
Stay warm and well.

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