On July 2, 2016, the Hook family lost their beloved Granny, Helen Hook. She was not only the matriarch of the group, but the Golden Star, the person everyone loved, and the one no one thought they could live without.

Following her passing, different members of the family did little things to keep her spirit alive. Some made trips to “Granny’s Beach” to relive their oldest memories, while others got tattoos that would allow her to live on forever.

Sydney Hook

Then came the first Christmas — Granny’s favorite holiday.

During the winter months, Helen didn’t just celebrate Christmas; she lived it. Every year, her house would turn into something of a Yuletide museum with so many decorations — both new and old — that you almost had to contort your body just to walk through it.

Then, there was her critically acclaimed, annual Christmas Eve Bash. A party no one missed and one people still talk about years later. But when Granny died, it was unclear if the Christmas joy she spread every year would go on without her.

As her granddaughter, Sydney Hook, told Dearly, that first Christmas without their esteemed Helen was difficult, and Christmas Eve obviously wasn’t the same.

Sydney Hook

They didn’t throw a big party, but they had a small, intimate gathering as a way of remembering her. This year will be very, very different, as Sydney explained:

“Obviously, the first year was really hard. I don’t want to say this year is easy, but it’s a little bit easier in the sense that I, along with the rest of my family, have had a little more time to cope with her not being here. I just have to remember each year to celebrate Christmas the way she would want us to.”

Helen’s youngest son, Chris, who is also Sydney’s father, is throwing his own Christmas Eve Bash in his mother’s honor.

Sydney Hook

The holidays can often be a time when the memories of the people we’ve lost come flooding back, and while the void can feel immense, it’s up to those still here on earth to cherish those memories and make them worthwhile. Sydney said:

“For those who knew Granny, they know that her Christmas decorations were over the top and absolutely amazing. I try to be as festive as possible, and my family and I set out as many elves as we possibly can! She made thousands of little elves that everyone in our family have, and seeing them around the house during the holidays is a constant reminder that she is here and celebrating with us.

This may seem cliché, but I feel granny with me the most around the holidays, and that’s how I’m able to turn my sadness into joy. You would never see a frown on granny’s face during Christmas, so why should I? I try to cherish the time I have with my friends and family as much as I can during the holidays, because that’s exactly what she did.”

Sydney continued:

“My dad made the decision this year to have a Christmas Eve party in hopes that eventually it will bring everyone together and Christmas can maybe be what it used to be, or close. It’s definitely what she would want us to do.”

As the family takes on their second Christmas season without their Granny, they each have a common goal — to do Helen proud, and that’s the advice Sydney has for others who have lost someone dear, struggling to get through the holidays: “My advice to those who are having a tough time around the holidays is to try their best to keep the spirit alive. Celebrate how your loved one would want you to. It’s not easy, but having a positive mindset and carrying them with you in your heart will make the holidays special again.”

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