The holidays are approaching, and we are looking forward to the warmth of connecting with family and friends; however, our gatherings may look different this year. For my family, there will be fewer guests and no visits from our parents or grandparents. In lieu of this, we decided to bring back the tradition of honoring our elders during the holiday season. How will we do this without them physically being in our home? I decided to designate a space in our home to display photos of our elders with fresh flowers, a candle, and incense. Usually, this spot in our home displays our menorah or, later in the season, a nativity. This year, among the holly and the candies, will be heartwarming photos of our grand relatives. 

Already, since the idea was sparked, our house is joyfully sharing old family stories and I noticed there is a fresh, light feeling around our home. Initially, I thought we would feel sadness about the absence of our family; and while we still do, there is a stronger emotion emerging now that we have committed to honoring our elders from afar. We are inspired. We are finding new ways to say thank you to our kūpuna, and it is fun. 

I encourage you and your family to try something similar. Place any memento that reminds you of your relatives (photo, card, etc.) in a spot where everyone in the family can enjoy it. Make a habit of acknowledging this spot by bowing, lighting a candle, saying a prayer, or offering a simple nod. You will notice a positive change in your mood and your house will feel harmonized because it is refreshing to focus our attention on the meaningful parts of our lives. This is especially important now when our attention is pulled by the material, consumer-driven focus of celebrating the end-of-the-year holidays. Let’s deepen our connection this year with what is most important — our families. Create a tradition of honoring your elders during the holiday season and let 2020 be a year of happy memories. 

Brittany C. Smith, the founder of Zen Smith, is a transformational home organizer serving central and upcountry Maui, Hawaii. Visit her website: