Tatjana backstage at the Big Thing Tour
Facing the holidays alone for the first time after a break-up or, the loss of a loved one is a big thing. My advice is to make plans in advance to spend the holiday in a new way… make new memories and traditions. That doesn’t mean you have to forget the old… why would you want to erase a wonderful part of your past? It is OK to shed a tear or feel sad… just don’t wallow in it. Remember you have the power to choose to be happy.

Nick, Tatjana, & Julie Anne Rhodes, and my in-laws
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. From the excitement of leaving cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer when I was a small tyke, to the excitement of making it a magical time for my own daughter...
Tatjana & Julie Anne Rhodes Christmas morning

Christmas has always been about the wonder in a child’s face for me. I knew my first Christmas without Tatjana (Nick and I alternated having her each year) would be hard.

I didn’t want to stay in the house in London alone, I knew being with my parents would only make us all miss her even more, and sitting on a beach somewhere with an idle mind was not a good idea. Then I opened the newspaper, and saw an ad for a cruise down the Nile...
Julie Anne Rhodes in Egypt

The British Museum curator would be lecturing in the evenings about what we would be exploring the next day. So, off I went to Egypt on my own.
A new mode of travel to go with my new traditions

I’m glad I ignored my friends who teased me “everyone on the trip would be old fossils twice my age”… not entirely true. There were plenty of queens on board to keep me amused too.
Doing my best Egyptian queen impression

It was the PERFECT remedy for keeping my mind off Tatjana’s absence, whilst being on an adventure through history in a fascinating land I’d always wanted to see.
Julie Anne Rhodes in Egypt

… and just check out the spread of food we had Christmas Eve on the boat!
SaniyitKufta
(Egyptian Baked Beef)
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ripe vine tomato, sliced into 4 slices
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2). Mix the beef, minced onions, tomato paste, cinnamon, and nutmeg with your hands in a large bowl.

3). Press mixture into an 8″ x 8″ square baking pan, about 2 inches thick. Cut a cross down the middle forming 4 separate pieces, and loosen sides carefully. Place one slice of tomato on each square serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4). Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with stuffed peppers and couscous.

PS.I also lost someone I loved deeply 10 years ago next week. Coming to terms with his death, I admit, has taken much longer to come to terms with than my divorce. Probably why I talk about my ex husband more… Michael was not a public man, and I still miss him very much.

R.I.P. Michael Alun White

No trips to an exotic land could spare me the oceans of tears I’ve shed, but I have eventually found that I can honor him by hanging onto the precious memories and letting the rest go. The energy of the soul and love it generates does not just disappear because the body has passed. It is always in our hearts, and I believe surrounding us, if we let it.

Check out “Blue Movement” Waterless Lawn Parties, Love Junkies, and Beauty Boot Camp Spa Retreat Parties This Holiday Season! | Julie Anne Rhodes
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  • December 5, 2009
    2:43 am

    What a wonderful, wonderful blog! Thank you for sharing! Going to Egypt on your own…that's certainly courageous!The picture of Tatjana, goodness, I hope you have that framed! Too utterly adorable!Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!Alison

    Reply
  • December 5, 2009
    6:43 am

    I'm glad you didn't "wallow" and managed to start afresh. That is one of the things I am noting in this journey of your words … you try very hard to keep things positive!

    Reply
  • December 5, 2009
    6:40 pm

    Hi TinTrust me,, I kick and scream a lot too. I don't just go from hurt and grieving to glowingly positive and happy in one fail swoop… it is a process. I also lost someone I loved deeply 10 years ago next week. Coming to terms with his death, I admit, has taken much longer to come to terms with than my divorce. No trips to an exotic land could spare me the oceans of tears I've shed, but I have eventually found that I can honor him by hanging onto the precious memories and letting the rest go. The energy of the soul and love it generates does not just disappear because the body has passed. It is always in our hearts, and I believe surrounding us, if we let it.i believe happiness is a choice. Experience has taught me I can see the glass half empty, stay bitter and twisted with the world, and ultimately be miserable, or… i can see the glass half full, hang onto the precious memories, let the pain and anger go, and be happy. I CHOOSE to be happy. All of us can with a little determination… I believe it is a choice.Glad you liked the entry Alison. I keep most of my happy memories in slightly tarnished silver picture frames. They remind me on a daily basis how fortunate I am. Why tarnished? Life isn't perfect, so it reminds me not to have unrealistic expectations.

    Reply
  • December 5, 2009
    11:27 pm

    Hi Julie Anne,Brilliant blog. It's fantastic that you managed to go to Egypt on your own. Stamina, determination and a love of life, is what I think about your amazing journey.I am so sorry for your loss, but at the same time happy that you have picked yourself up (after so much pain) and done so well. Divorce, a loved one gone, Crohns disease, and yet you have shown that life is still full of wonderful, amazing experiences waiting to be shared.A beautiful dear friend of mine once gave me a book many years ago, by Louise L.Hay titled "You Can Heal Your Life". This book changed my way of thinking and made me a better person. Louise Hay once wrote an affirmation …"my pathway is a series of stepping stones to ever greater success"……I truly believe that yours is way up there. I will leave you with another of her affirmation's (well only a small part of it)…."Life is every changing, there is no beginning and no end, only a constant cycling & recycling of substance & experiences. Life is never stuck or static or stale, for each moment is ever new & fresh.Every moment of life is a new beginning point as we move from the old. This moment is a new point of beginning for me right here and right now".Aussie Mum (Nancy)

    Reply
  • December 6, 2009
    12:20 am

    Hi Aussie Mum… my journey is no more amazing than anyone else's (life happens to ALL of us)… I may just be more of an open book about it than most, but thank you for your support. I'll take it! Love Louise Hay too… you have obviously been on a very similar journey of your own, and I'd be willing to wager you have an equally large sense of adventure and lust for life. I always look forward to hearing from you. xo

    Reply
  • December 6, 2009
    5:14 am

    Thank you Julie Anne for the inspirational blog. My dad passed away on May 8, 2009. My dad was my best friend next to my husband. I am trying to make the most of the holiday season without him but what makes it esp. hard is his birthday is/was December 23. I am working on dealing with my grief. Whenever I would cry or be upset about something, my dad would always say "Stop Crying, take a deep breath, and go wash your face…" So whenever the tears start flowing, I take a deep breath and go wash my face…Thank you again Julie Anne for being such a positive influence…

    Reply
  • December 6, 2009
    5:43 am

    I'm so sorry for your loss Kimmie. It must be doubly hard with your father's birthday just two days before the holiday too. It probably upset your father to see you cry, because he loved you. Sometimes we need to cry before we can get past the tears. I was afraid I would drown in the tears, and that once I started crying I would never stop, but they did eventually dry up, the feelings of loss and abandonment eased, and all that was left were the fond memories and a lot of warmth I feel around me. The grieving process is different for everyone… don't let anyone tell you how to feel… you will figure that out for yourself in your own time. It is OK to cry, but try to be sure and set some time aside each day for happy memories too. Remember your father would want you to be happy. Sending you a cyber hug!

    Reply
  • December 7, 2009
    5:20 pm

    You do have a wonderful, wonderful blog. It is so touching and relevant to so many of us…Thank you very much for sharing these memories …

    Reply
  • December 7, 2009
    11:07 pm

    "It is OK to shed a tear or feel sad… just don't wallow in it. Remember you have the power to choose to be happy."Thank you for these words of wisdom. The holidays are proving particularly difficult this year for reasons I won't get into here. But thank you for the gentle reminder that while it is okay to feel sad, that we also have the power to choose happiness too. One feeling doesn't preclude the other and it is possible to be both sad and happy at the same time. I think you are so right that the whole key is not to let the sadness become overwhelming, and even more importantly that there is no need to feel guilty about trying to feel happy too.

    Reply
  • January 25, 2011
    11:02 pm

    simply… you're such an intelligent, sensitive woman, i do agree so much with you about sadness and ways to go on. even if the sadness is due to a heavy loss. ty for sharing your deepest feelings with us all. you're special.

    Reply

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