For all of us the Holidays can be a busy, sometimes great, sometimes stressful, time of year. And if you’re thinking about someone you love who has died, their absence can make the season all the more difficult. It’s hard to put aside feelings of loss and enjoy the Holiday season when the person you love is not there to share in celebrating the traditions you’ve built with them over the years.
Through no fault of your own and circumstances beyond your control, you now have the task of coming up with a new definition of “normal” for your Holidays this year and the years to come. However within this redefinition process it is possible to affect change that can make you feel joyful and as though you’re finding the path forward to a happy life.
There’s a chance that while rebuilding the new version of normal for yourself you can take this opportunity to change things in your life that have been ignored or put on the back burner. It’s possible to gain something positive from the death of a family member or friend, and it’s nothing to feel guilty about, because it’s worth betting on that that person would want you to be happy and to take every opportunity to live your best life.
It’s unreasonable to expect someone who’s dealing with grief to be living their best life right away. It’s a process. We all tend to put on a happy face for the Holidays but it’s alright to have pangs of grief, it’s completely natural, and sometimes a good cry (even for the guys) can be the most emotionally cleansing thing you can do.
Be honest with yourself and give yourself permission to fall apart once in a while, but don’t submit to it completely. When you find yourself in this situation, just give yourself a few moments, let it all out, then take a deep breath, think fondly of your lost family member or friend, wish them the best, and rejoin your life. Keep pushing your way forward. Finding the path forward to a happy life is possible, it just takes time and a commitment to seek out joy in your life again.
Joy can be a hard thing to find if you’re not looking for it. It’s important to embrace your vitality. (Yes, you do have vitality!) Look for happiness in the world around you and be open to enjoying it. We’ve all had some party or event we really didn’t feel like going to and begrudgingly got dressed and trudged to the car only to arrive at the party and have a fantastic time. Life can be like that, where happiness is often found in places you wouldn’t expect it or in things you’ve never even tried before.
Now more than ever it’s important to actively seek ways to be happy. Joy during the Holidays may have come effortlessly before the death of your family member or friend, but now it’s up to you to make this new version of your life, in the absence of that person, the best life that it can be. There are simple things you can do every day to avoid getting bogged down and keep yourself moving in a positive direction. Below, we offer a list of things going on in the metro area that might get you moving in that positive direction.
Staying physically active is a great way to feel productive and reduce stress.* We all know that winter in Minnesota can be harsh, to say the least, with the bone-chilling temperatures, mountains of snow, and miniscule amounts of daylight, but getting a bit of exercise can bring welcomed relief from these elements and actually make you feel better.
If you’re a brave soul, you can bundle up and take on Old Man Winter by going for a brisk walk, skiing (down-hill or cross-country), snow shoeing, ice-skating, snowball fighting, or just trudging through the snow. But for those who prefer warmer temperatures, and really who could blame you, alternatives could include; climbing the stairs in your home, chasing your children or grandchildren, having a kid teach you how to play a Wii or Kinect video game, or taking in the sights of Holiday decorations and beleaguered bag-burdened shoppers while walking around the Mall of America (the walking distance around all three levels of Mall of America is more than 1.5 miles).
The options for exercise are truly endless, and the aches and pains that stress and sadness can bring may be reduced by getting your body in motion. And you don’t have to exercise alone. Finding a group or partner in these activities can make for an even more enjoyable experience.
The Holidays are a great time to connect, or reconnect, with positive people who love and support you. It’s likely that you’re not alone in your feelings of grief this time of year, so shared experiences in seeking joy can be beneficial to not only you, but to your family, friends, and community.
This is an ideal time to experiment with new and different ways of getting together and celebrating the Holidays. If the thought of your past traditions seem incomplete without the person who died, you may want to try participating in new events or activities that may someday be added to the redefined version of your Holiday tradition.
At Mueller Memorial, we’re committed to assisting you in finding the path forward to a happy life (and a happy Holiday) and would like to suggest a few wonderful Holiday events going on around the metro in the coming weeks. There are a variety of events for all ages and abilities and many of them are free! Hopefully any one of these will put you in the cheerful spirit of the Holidays.
Christmas Decorating Party
Saturday, November 25th, 9am-12pm, Free!
WHITE BEAR LAKE | The Fillebrown House, 4735 Lake Avenue, 55110
Help beautify your community by joining the White Bear Lake Historical Society in decorating the charming Fillebrown House for Christmas. Refreshments, door prizes, and holiday music will be an exciting kick off to the Holiday season. To RSVP, call 651-407-5327 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rice Park Tree Lighting Ceremony
Saturday, November 18th, 3:30pm – 10pm, Free!
ST. PAUL | Rice Park, 109 West 4th Street, 55102
Celebrate the Season in one of the most elegantly decorated parks in the metro. Surrounded by the Landmark Center, The Saint Paul Hotel, The Ordway Center, and the St. Paul Library, Rice Park is placed in an historic setting, which only amplifies the dazzling classic-style Holiday décor. The tree will be lit for the first time of the season in a festive ceremony. The Teddy Bear Band and a sleigh and reindeer will be on hand. The tree lighting ceremony officially begins at 6pm with the lights and fireworks around 6:30pm; 7:15pm will be the grand opening of WinterSkate with skating performances. (See the next event.) For more information visit,
Saturday, November 18th, 2016 – Sunday, February 11th, 2017, (hours vary depending on date), Free!
ST. PAUL | Landmark Plaza, corner of West 5th & Market Streets, 55102
If you come down to wonder at the marvel of Rice Park’s lovely decorations, why not strap on some skates and take a turn around the WinterSkate ice rink? The rink generally opens daily at 11am and closes earlier on weekdays and later on the weekends. Hours and more information can be found at, visitsaintpaul.com/things-to-do/winter-fun/wells-fargo-winterskate/
November and December, 2017, (Varying event dates and times), Free - $30
ALL AROUND THE TWIN CITIES
Many of the colleges around the metro perform special Holiday presentations that feature, choirs, symphonies, dance, and dramatic performances. Colleges holding performances this year include, Augsburg, Macalester, Hamline, Bethel, Concordia, St. Thomas, and St Benedict’s/St John’s, among others. For a list of performance dates and times, and for reserving these high demand tickets visit the link. http://www.mnprivatecolleges.org/events-news/upcoming-events/holiday-concerts
Christmas Traditions Guided House Tour at the James J. Hill House
Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sun November 22 - December 31 tours run 10am – 4:30pm, $8-12
ST. PAUL | James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Ave. 55102 Reservation required.
In the 1890s, St. Paul’s Summit Avenue was a holiday destination where friends and neighbors would gather together to celebrate the Christmas season and welcome the New Year. On this holiday tour, discover holiday celebrations of the past through the stories of those who lived and worked on Summit Avenue, including excerpts from Hill family letters and journals and rare historic photographs of the neighborhood. Tours run 60 minutes with the last tour time at 3:30 pm.
http://www.mnhs.org/calendar?s=7512 Reservations call: 651-297-2555
Governor’s Residence Holiday Tours
Tuesdays, December 5th & 19th, 10:30am – 12:30pm; Tuesday December 12th, 5pm – 7pm, FREE!
ST. PAUL | 1006 Summit Avenue, 55105
The 2017 Holiday Season at the Minnesota Governor's Residence will kick-off the evening of Monday, November 27th 2017 with festive holiday lighting of the outside garland and tree. The Residence will be open for three public tours on Tuesdays, December 5th - 12th. The following performers will be volunteering during holiday tours; December 5 - Armstrong Chamber Singers, December 12 - (evening tour) Paulette Day, Pianist, December 19 - South St. Paul Secondary Choir. No reservations are required; the tours will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no fee for the tour, but please consider bringing with you a monetary donation or non-perishable food items for Second Harvest Heartland. For more information visit, http://www.mn.gov/admin/governors-residence/tours/schedule/
Holiday Flower Show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory
December 2nd – January 7th, 10am – 4pm daily, Free (donation of $2 is recommended)
ST. PAUL | Como Park Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Drive, 55103
“The Holiday Flower Show tradition began in 1925 and continues to be the most anticipated and visited flower attraction at the Conservatory today. The Holiday show will feature mostly pink Poinsettias with traces of white throughout the garden. The Conservatory will also be holding two Holiday teas on Wednesday December 6th at 11am and 2pm ($40-$45) For more information about all their events or the flower show visit, http://www.comozooconservatory.org/events/special-events/
Jingle Bear 5k Run/Walk and Kids Fun Run (150 meter dash)
Saturday, December 9th, 9am – 11am, 5k registration fee after Nov. 17th, $35; Kids 150m fun run, $10
WHITE BEAR LAKE | Near VFW Post 1782, 4496 Lake Avenue South, White Bear Lake, 55110
This is a fun and festive way to kick off your holidays by getting active while helping others! Tie jingle bells to your shoelaces (they supply the bells, Santa hats, and race shirts) and run or walk a 5 kilometer (3.2 mile) route along the beautiful shore of White Bear Lake. Help others celebrate the season by bringing a non-perishable food item for the White Bear Lake Food Shelf. After the race, enjoy a $8.85 breakfast buffet at the VFW. Discount early online registration is available at, http://www.jinglebearrun.com
Saturdays, December 2nd, 9th, & 16th 11am – 3pm, Free!
WHITE BEAR LAKE | In the area just east of Highway 61 between 3rd and 4th Streets, 55110
If you’re planning to venture out for the Jingle Bear 5k (see above), or if you just like the idea of strolling in the quaint downtown area of White Bear Lake this frosty event is the perfect chance to see White Bear at its bustling, wintery best. There will be horse drawn trolly rides and photos with Santa free with the donation of non-perishable food items. On Dec. 2nd there is also a Breakfast with Santa at Rudy's Redeye Grill ($10-16). For more information go to, http://www.downtownwhitebearlake.com/events.htm
Saturday, December 2nd, Morning through the Afternoon, Free Shopping Event
ST. PAUL | Grand Avenue shops in the area of Grand Ave and South Victoria Street, 55105
Enjoy a day on Grand Avenue for this leisurely, family-friendly holiday event featuring a Breakfast with Santa (not free), live reindeer, Vulcan fire truck rides, a soup tasting, carolers, and fabulous holiday shopping at Grand Avenue's retailers. For more information visit, http://www.grandave.com/events/grand-meander
Saturday, December 2nd 10am – 4pm AND Sunday, December 3rd 12 – 4pm, Free Shopping Event
ROSEVILLE | Roseville City Hall, 2660 Civic Center Road, 55113
Visit the 14th Annual Roseville Holiday Craft Fair and get your mittens on some unique handmade items perfect for gift giving! The event will feature more than 70 crafters. Refreshments are available for purchase from Dunn Brothers. For more, visit their very informative website at, www.holidaycraftfair.com
A Handmade Holiday Market
Saturdays, December 9th, 16th & 23rd 12pm - 5pm, Free!
MINNEAPOLIS | Lakes & Legends Brewing Co., 1368 Lasalle Ave 55403, FREE!
“Procraftinators” unite! Minneapolis Craft Market is hosting three special *Saturday* holiday markets inside the taproom at Lakes & Legends Brewing Company in downtown Minneapolis. Join them at the beautiful 3,500 square-foot tap room to visit with local artists and makers while sipping delicious farm-to-table Belgian-style beers. They'll have a gift-wrapping station, music, and holiday cheer! More information at, www.mplscraftmarket.com
Saturday, December 9th, 6pm - 7:30pm, $5 in advance, $7 at the door
INVER GROVE HEIGHTS | Veteran’s Memorial Community Center, 8055 Barbara Avenue, 55077
Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa is coming to visit the Community Center’s West Arena on skates! Skate around the ice with Santa and your family. Arrive dressed in red or green and you will get a special holiday prize. Hot beverages and snacks will be provided. Visit their website at: http://www.ci.inver-grove-heights.mn.us/135/FamilyYouth-Activities (Then click the "Holiday Programs") header.
New Year’s Eve Events
Sun, December 31st AND Mon, January 1st (2018), 10am – 1pm, Free ($2 donation is recommended)
ST. PAUL | Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Estabrook Drive, 55103
Ring in the New Year with the kids or grandkids that may not otherwise be able to keep their eyes open ‘til midnight. The Noon Year’s party features mid-day entertainment by KidsDance! Minnesota's favorite high-energy, interactive DJ service for kids, will be here both days with tunes, contests, and fabulous prizes! We will have craft making, special animal enrichment, giveaways, and a countdown to noon with hundreds of beach balls dropped from the ceiling. For further information visit, www.comozooconservatory.org/events/special-events/
New Years Eve Extravaganza at Afton Alps
Sunday, December 31st, 9:30am – Midnight, $43 - $53 per lift ticket, depending on age & arrival time
HASTINGS | Afton Alps Recreation Area, 6600 Peller Avenue, 55033
Swoosh down any of the 48 trails that Afton Alps features during the day and later take on the front runs that will stay open until midnight for New Years Eve. This family friendly event will ring in the New Year with lifts open 9:30am to Midnight. Enjoy sillside fireworks, a bonfire, and food specials. This is a great way to get out and start your New Year on an exhilarating and fun-filled note. Check out www.aftonalps.com/events/events/new-year%E2%80%99s-eve-extravaganza for more information.
Funnier than Nate Abshire featuring Bryan Miller
Sunday, December 31st, Shows at 8pm and 10:30pm, $25 show only, $55 including dinner
MINNEAPOLIS | Acme Comedy Co., 708 North First Street, 55401
Ring in 2018 with not one, but two headliners for a spectacular stand up show. For years comedians Nate Abshire & Bryan Miller have engaged in a friendly competition; each claiming that he is the funnier one. Is Bryan Miller really funnier than Nate Abshire, or is it the opposite? WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH! The good news for audience members is that show is sure to impress, as bragging rights are at stake and Nate and Bryan will be pulling out all the stops. For tickets go to http://acmecomedycompany.com/comics/funnier-than...nye/
Holiday Movies to Change Your Mood
If you don’t want to head out into the hustle and bustle of the Holiday events, you can always pop some popcorn and curl up with an uplifting Holiday movie. Here are some suggestions:
Christmas and the Holidays
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – Steve Martin & John Candy stumble and bumble their way home, hoping to make it back in time for Thanksgiving.
It’s a Wonderful Life – The mother of all feel-good Christmas movies!
Love Actually – It’s a little racy, but it sweetly celebrates love of all kinds as it counts down the days ‘til Christmas.
Scrooged – Bill Murray takes a hilarious turn as the iconic curmudgeon in this “A Christmas Carol” remake.
A Christmas Story – The coming-of-age Christmas film that brought us classics like “You’ll shoot yer eye out,” the triple dog dare, and the leg lamp.
Elf – Will Farrell charms as Buddy the Elf who leaves the kind-hearted North Pole for the harsher streets of New York to seek out his cranky long-lost father and some Christmas cheer.
Die Hard – Yes you read that correctly. The high-thrill hostage situation that made Bruce Willis an action star takes place as he attempts to reconcile with his wife on Christmas. Yippee ki-yay!
The Holiday – Romance flourishes as two single gals swap houses across continents to take a Christmastime “holiday” from their regular routines.
Home Alone – In this fun family favorite, eight-year-old Kevin ends up with the run of his house and must defend it against a pair of inept burglars. Tinsel-filled antics ensue.
The Hallmark Channel – Featuring 24/7 wall-to-wall holiday movies beginning before Halloween. (Yes, BEFORE Halloween.) Check local listings or visit http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/schedule
New Year’s Eve
Bridget Jones’ Diary – This film, based on the book by Helen Fielding, picks up with our heroine on New Year’s Eve and follows her as she blithely stumbles her way through the next year.
An Affair to Remember – A classic, epic romance that centers around a very important meeting on New Year’s Eve.
Trading Places – This reversal of fortunes comedy culminates with an action packed scheme taking place on a train on New Year’s Eve. This one’s NOT for kids. And keep an eye out for Senator Franken.
Back to the Future – If you’ve got younger ones trying to stay up to watch the clock strike twelve, why not watch a movie that plays around with time? They’ll likely get a kick out of the 1980’s version cutting edge special effects, but the story is as fun and exciting as ever!
New Year’s Eve – A-list actors pack vignettes of intertwined New Yorkers stories all taking place on Manhattan’s biggest party night of the year.
We hope that something on this list has caught your eye and looks like a good chance for you to have some fun, or try a new experience this Holiday season. There are so many opportunities this time of year to find joy in your family, friends, and community. It’s our sincere hope that we at Mueller Memorial can help you to connect with the happiness that this season can bring, and to support your progress in finding the path forward to a happy life.
Celebrate the Season of Joy!
* You always want to respect your physical limits and not push yourself beyond what is a safe amount of activity for you as an individual. If there is any doubt that you would be able to perform any of these activities or any other exercise regimen please consult your physician before attempting them.
***All times and prices for events listed were accurate at the time of publication. Please double check any activities’ times, hours of operation, availability, and prices as they may be subject to change or limited availability.