What Comes to Mind When You Think About the Holidays?

What comes to mind?… when you think about the holidays.


I was shocked and I have to admit a little disappointed in my one word response to that question when it was poised to me.


Hectic, really?


What happened to the sheer joy of the holidays that I used to feel as a child and young man? Where did those feelings go? Now don’t get me completely wrong, I still can find some joy in the holidays and I’m lucky because being around my family on both sides is pretty much always a great thing with positive energy almost all the time. I say positive almost all the time because we are a family, not robots.

The sure joy you would have as a kid for Halloween, Thanksgiving and of course Christmas was palpable. Now candy, good food and presents are always something that can bring a kid joy and even us older folks. But there was also and underlying theme at least in my home… love. It was about coming together to catch up and share with our family and friends and give thanks. There was something very comforting in that.

Fast-forward to now ,I have a wife, three children (two teenagers), a job (a good thing), a mortgage, bills, responsibility etc. and the responsibility of creating the holiday experience for them.

Here are some of the “hectic” things I have to think about when planning out the holidays:

  • When am I going to find the time, to put up all the decorations, get the needed supplies of candy, food, presents.
  • How much am I going to spend, how much can I afford?
  • Where am I going, who am I going to disappoint for not being there.
  •  The list just goes on and on doesn’t it. I have a strange feeling I’m not the only one that can have these stresses and anxieties.

What I have found helps me at this time of year is to do my best to have an “attitude of gratitude and thanks” I know this is always easier said then done, but when I take the time to do so it always puts things in perspective for me. Instead of stressing about who I will disappoint, I relish that I have the options I have, many people do not. Instead of stressing about the money I will be spending on all of the gifts, I thank the stars that I have wonderful, healthy children to get candy and presents for as well as friends and family to break bread with – again, many people do not.

So I do my best to slow down, enjoy the moment and bring a-little-kid-sparkle back into the holidays. Am I successful 100% of the time… no, but enough to allow me to enjoy. I thought I would never be able to duplicate that feeling of seeing my new Schwinn Stingray under the tree and maybe I cannot, but seeing the smile on my children’s faces when they are living in that moment comes pretty darn close.

The holidays can bring up a lot of sadness, loneliness and anxiety in a lot of people. I sometimes am one of those people, even as a funeral director I’m not immune. However I’m also one of the very fortunate ones that can take a step back and acknowledge the good and all I have to be thankful for, even through this very hectic and all consuming time we call the holidays. So be the grateful one if at all possible and if only for a moment you may be brought back to that magical time of holidays past.


  • When you are down, what is on your list that you are grateful for that can make you appreciate the moment and what you have?


  • What are your fondest child hood memories of Halloween, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas?
By | 2012-10-17T05:00:04-07:00 October 17th, 2012|General, Seasons of Life|19 Comments


  1. Carrie Bayer October 17, 2012 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Chuck, you are possibly the most positive person I have ever known. You handle “hectic” with poise & grace- something I strive for but usually fall a bit short on. But, you set an example for me to follow- I watch & learn from you more than you know. The holidays are not a particularly good time for me because I miss my family & can’t be with them as much as I hope to. I have experienced loss during the holidays & that creeps to the forefront when I see the decorations going up around me. But, I have some great memories of holidays past! I will always smile & laugh about the Christmas morning when I got my first pair of roller skates. I was 5 years old & I couldn’t wait to get them on my feet & go full blast down the sidewalk. The reality was that I couldn’t stay upright- I was sprawled out on the ground like a dog on a frozen lake, scrambling to get my legs beneath me just to slip & slide right back onto my face. My grandpa pulled me up by the arms & held my on my feet so I could get the hang of it. And, he did it with my little sister sitting high on his shoulders! I will never forget that time with my grandpa, the kindness he showed me & the time he invested to help me learn. Another fun memory is Thanksgiving 2 years ago when I helped my friends make a turducken (chicken inside a duck inside a turkey)- I put the sweetest baseball stitch on that bird & everyone was surprised at how handy an embalmer at Thanksgiving was. It was a delicious meal! Thank you for sharing you holiday feelings! XOXOX Carrie

  2. Chuck Ricciardi October 17, 2012 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your past holiday experiences with us, it does bring back some fond memories doesn’t it. I know that the holidays can also conjure up some not so fond memories as well. That is the ying and yang of almost all of lives experiences isn’t it. I try my best to stay positive and allow moments past to be just that and attempt to understand that I cannot control the future. Doing what we do we see on a daily basis how ones live can change on a dime, so love, live and laughs as much as possible. I appreciate you and our relationship, I also learn form you and love that you have such a big heart for all you come in contact with.

  3. Anne Collins October 17, 2012 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I really honed in on what you said about gratitude. We had an inspirational business coach speak this morning at Rotary. He discussed “coming back” in business when the downturn in your particular industry is causing failures, lay-offs and being stretched too thin doing the job of the employees who are gone… The first thing he said to do was begin to practice “extreme gratitude” for everything starting with your breath and eyesight. From there, we heard several other great ideas.

    No matter what, good holidays, not so good holidays, if we can start with extreme gratitude for what we do have and experience, we can accomplish the rest. It’s the undecideds of the holidays that creates stress, along with saying “yes” to too much. Once we make decisions, focus on completing the tasks (but not at the last minute), peace can actually come out of the chaos. And when January 2nd rolls around we can say we did it one more time.
    Thanks for your great post. You have a big heart and I am glad we are in each other’s world.

    • Chuck Ricciardi October 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm - Reply


      Im glad you are in my world as well! I certainly have learned from you as well about staying positive in the midst of adversity. Holidays or not, when I find myself slipping into negative thoughts or feeling sorry for myself for whatever reason it usually means I have not taken the time to give thanks. When I find myself here I take three deep controlled breaths (In through the nose out through the mouth) and give thanks for whatever I can. 99% of the time this brings me back in focus on a positive note. To be at peace with oneself and the world is priceless.

  4. Lori October 17, 2012 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Oh you take me back to the times of being a kid and the holidays were filled with joy and anticipation. We were given license to be selfish. We could ask for exactly what we wanted and usually get it. We just had to show up to the dinner table, not pay for or prepare anything on it. “Those were the days”, as they say.
    I could easily get depressed about the approaching holiday season for many reasons. I choose joy. If you keep your mind and heart open there is always something positive to be found.
    I try to minimize those factors that will cause me stress. I shop online so that I am not frantic about getting to the mall. If I get the actual shopping part over then I am free to enjoy an outdoor venue such as Fashion Island to walk around and just breathe in the holiday spirit.
    I know you make the holidays wonderful for your family and they love you for it.
    Love you,

  5. Chuck Ricciardi October 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm - Reply


    I like your description of the feeling of being a kid during the holidays. (You get to be selfish) Isn’t that the truth, we get to be selfish, today we get frowned upon if we are perceived selfish. I so appreciate your positive attitude and I know you give thanks for what you have in your life, even though it is not always positive. My heart goes out to you as you struggle with your grandmother’s frailty and I know you our soaking up every moment you can with her. My hope is you can give thanks for that, so many do not always get that opportunity.

  6. Jeff October 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm - Reply


    You embody the “attitude of gratitude” better than anyone I know. You always have a smile on your face and one of my favorite laughs. I also appreciate the sound effects you employ as you tell a story. Seeing you in the role of general manager for the several years you took it on proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that at the core, you choose JOY! Thank you for modeling this day in and day out.

    Knowing some of the realities that you have lived through that were not all joy, makes your calm, even, positive and fun demeanor even more precious. You are contagious…. in the best sense.

    I love you man,


  7. Chuck Ricciardi October 18, 2012 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I try my best, I’m not always successful but how boring would life be if we were always successful. You know Matthew would have turned 18 on October 14. It is hard to believe how time marches on and how time will never truly take the hole away. What is more amazing is how he taught me so much in such a short time. The holidays remind me to appreciate everything I have in this life and how quickly it can all be taken away. Thanks Jeff for your friendship and partnership, I appreciate you very much. We must be able to bend and yield to survive, the stiff tree in the fierce winds is the one that snaps.
    Love you,


  8. amy October 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    You are truly the master of “attitude of gratitude.” I feel very blessed to work along side you and learn your divine way of caring for others.
    What I treasure most is being able to set forth traditions and make memories with my 2 daughters. Just to have them around and enjoy them is the best!

    • Chuck Ricciardi October 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      I feel blessed as well to work with you and our entire team. It is so nice to work and hangout with great people that care for others. Give those two girls big hugs everyday, I know you soak up the moments when they are in front of you because they are so fleeting. Enjoy!


  9. Neil O'Connor October 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Chuck –

    Great reflective blog! When I get the blues and start to have my own pity party, all I have to do to snap out of it is turn on the TV and watch the news. There are so many people in the world who are really hurting and just trying to survive another day. I sometimes wonder why this world has such disparity, it seems so unfair.

    • Chuck Ricciardi October 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Isn’t that the truth, you can always find somebody that has bigger issues than you, most of the time you do not have to look long. Walk this earth and spread kindness, it is all we can do, the rest is out of our control. Enjoy you time with your son, I know you do. Before you know it you will have a back talking teenager on your hands. Enjoy!


      • Neil O'Connor October 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm - Reply

        Chuck –

        Jesse is already talking back to me! Just like his Momma.

  10. Molly October 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    I love this post of yours, the reminder to be thankful & check our attitude BEFORE we get into the craziness is invaluable. I hope to practice what you’re preaching this season & make opportunities to relax and plan out the season in such a way that I can have time to be thankful & enjoy the time.

    Thanks for such a lovely post, can’t wait to read more!

    • Chuck Ricciardi November 5, 2012 at 10:00 am - Reply


      Sometimes we just have to remind ourselves to stop and smell the roses. I hope you allow yourself that little luxury. How can we appreciate what we have if we never celebrate it? Hope your holidays are filled with Joy!


  11. Al October 23, 2012 at 7:09 am - Reply

    Inspiring post and good thoughts to kick off the season. You guys do a great work comforting us in our hardest times, and we are grateful.
    Neil is right saying how hard it is to try understanding the despair in this world, but it’s obvious you draw your hope from a higher place.
    Even, (or especially)through pain, your team reaches out to make the world a better place.
    Thank you

    • Chuck Ricciardi November 5, 2012 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Thanks Al,

      We do our best to spread a little joy around, we are not always successful. Doing what we do we see almost on a daily basis how quickly things can turn in this world and just how precious our relationships are. Nobody controls tomorrow so enjoy today and while on your way why not make this place just a little nicer. Hope you find your peace and joy this holiday season and beyond.


  12. Kari Leslie November 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm - Reply


    Sorry it took me so long to respond. This is a great subject, and one very dear to my “hectic” heart. I couldn’t agree with you more, and here’s why. This time of year can be very hectic ESPECIALLY due to obligations. Whether time, energy, or financial, we can get spread pretty thin. I too attempt to achieve that “Schwinn” under the tree JOY for not only my kids, but for myself and my extended family as well. I make a warm comfortable home, lots of good food and time to spend baking cookies, or sitting by the fire. If we do a small bit every day, for ourselves and our loved ones, the memories will echo through the years. One of my favorite times is when one of my kids, nieces, nephews, or friends kids reach back and remember a time we were together and we relive the splendor of it all over again!!

    Happy Holidays to you and Yours

    • Chuck Ricciardi November 5, 2012 at 10:12 am - Reply

      Hey Kari,

      Hopefully you can find those rare moments to take it all in and just be… Easier said than done when you are the hostess I know, so much to do. bringing family together can be great fun but it can also be stressful and filled with anxiety. Reliving wonderful memories is a great way to bring the joy and love back to it. I’m sure you and yours get away with a little fun and laughter during the holidays. Im also sure you create a warm and loving home in which that can happen. Hope you find the joy and peace you deserve, love ya.


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