Old, new holiday traditions celebrated after death of spouse - Catholic Courier
(Photo courtesy Leonor Rivera)

(Photo courtesy Leonor Rivera)

Old, new holiday traditions celebrated after death of spouse

Celebrating Three Kings Day in January is one of our marriage and family traditions. It extends Christmas festivities, livening up a month that is cold and gloomy in upstate New York.

When the boys were little, Ed shared his childhood tradition by teaching the boys to put dry grass in little shoe boxes to feed the camels when the Three Kings, also known as Magi or Wise Men, came to deliver gifts to them like they delivered gifts to baby Jesus.

When we travelled to Puerto Rico to be with Ed’s parents for the holidays, Ed excitedly took us to the mall to have the boys photographed on a live camel with a very ornately dressed King. When we celebrated in our home in New York, we saved a Christmas gift to open on Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany. We sometimes wore paper crowns.

On one of our last vacations, Ed and I went to Barcelona, Spain, and happened to be there on Three Kings Day. They had what looked like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade down one of the long main streets. We hugged while we watched in awe from our hotel window. Many of the floats prominently featured stars for the Magi to follow.

This holiday season, my first since Ed went to heaven, has been bittersweet. Our sons and I still found ways to celebrate. I flew to California to celebrate an early Christmas with Sean and his fiancée, Sarah. Then I came home to celebrate Christmas and New Year with Jordan.

Ed and his joyful personality and love of holidays inspired us to keep many of our traditions and make new ones. Like the Wise Men did, we keep following the star, especially now that Ed has gone to live among them.


Leonor “Leo” and Ed Rivera were members of the local Worldwide Marriage Encounter community for 32 of their 34 years of marriage until Ed unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Aug 1, 2020. To learn more about Worldwide Marriage Encounter in-person and virtual enrichment weekends, visit www.wwme.org. To read more of Leo and Ed’s blogs, visit https://catholiccourier.com/viewpoints/blogs/to-have-and-to-hold.

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