Theater and panel highlights with Jessica Cashman about grieving the loss of family members over the holidays

I have something to confess: I’ve never been much of a theatre person. The thought of seeing a live play seems so boring. And the idea of being trapped in a theater for an unknown length of time make me a bit anxious. So when I was invited to attend the performance of Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) at Sacred Fool Theatre Company, and then to speak on a panel after the performance, I was immediately wary. Plus the panel was going to take place way beyond my bedtime virtually ensuring I’d struggle just to keep my eyes open.

Nevertheless, my husband and I went to the performance and as a result, I am a changed person. The play and performances were fantastic but there was something about seeing it in person, live, that really created an energy and made it easier to connect to the material and the actors. The play was about a mother and daughter over the holidays who are coming up on the year anniversary of their husband/father’s death. Loss, grieving and coping, or lack of coping were main themes in the play, along with the idea of family and the coming together and the divide that can occur with a major family tragedy.

Here we are now in the midst of the holidays and seeing this play and speaking on the panel reminded me of how difficult this time of year can be. My husband and I lost his grandmother a few years back who he was very close to. His grandmother was a well-respected Los Angeles lady about town, almost what you’d call a socialite. Every holiday she would feel the need to go on a driving tour throughout Los Angeles to tip the staff at her country club, her door men, and the hosts at her favorite restaurants. My husband and I would go with her a bit sheepishly and find the whole ritual a bit obnoxious and silly. But now we don’t have anyone in our lives who does this kind ritualistic tipping and we realize it’s like a lost art. There is so much we would be willing to give to partake in this ritual with grandma just one more time.

We all have stories like this one about our loved ones who have passed or who are just too far away to spend the holidays with. It can tend to feel like an open space where it should be filled. Maybe it’s because they where the one who always decorated the tree, or made the pie, or tipped the random stranger. Try to fill that space in memory of the one who can no longer be there by baking that pie in their honor with their recipe. My husband and I do not have a country club, or door men, so we’ll have to come up with the current version of tipping for the holidays. Any suggestions out there would be welcomed!