We are in San Diego for the Christmas holiday this year for a myriad of reasons: visiting family unable to attend the wedding, establishing our own family traditions based on/adapted from existing ones, and supporting my grandmother.
This Thursday, we happened to be in town for the final mass in a novena dedicated to the memory of my grandfather. From conversations with my Aunt Claire and a bit of Googling, I understand a novena to be 9 distinct days of prayer, completed for a variety of reasons. In this case, it took place on the 21st of each month (my grandfather passed on the 21st of January, 2010), excepting August, and was designed to help his spirit in its journey and ease the distress of those left behind. The service itself was a traditional Catholic mass, with it's ritual customs and responses.
The masses during the novena were held at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in El Cajon, California. One of my grandmother's friends made a donation in honor of my grandfather and requested the prayer services. This is the chapel they were held in.
I must admit, the mass itself was not meaningful due to the fact I am not Catholic, but the symbolic nature of being there with my family for the final service meant a great deal to me. Below, I've put a photo of a tribute that I'm able to understand on a more personal level. This little area sits near the dining room table and has a candle which is lit each day. The photograph on the far right is one I have hanging on my own wall at home.
Grandpa, Granddad, Granddo, or whatever affectionate name you wish to use was a central figure in our family and a special person in my life. This Christmas, I am grateful for the memories, life lessons, and amazing family he left behind. I hope everyone was able to take a moment to appreciate the important people in their lives and create memories they can cherish and share for the rest of their lives.
Wishing you great joy and love,