Crafting Your Grief: Four Candles, a New Tradition

Tonight begins Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. There’s beauty and a sense of peace one feels while gazing into the warm glow of firelight. As I write this I reflect on a new family tradition borne out of necessity.

4 votive candles on a festive plate

Two years ago on Thanksgiving, our family started a new holiday tradition – lighting four candles in memory of my husband. It was our first holiday without him and the first time in thirty years we celebrated elsewhere. We were already experiencing changes in our lives and celebrations but I wanted to take back some small sense of control by initiating a new family tradition of our choice.

That’s when the Four Candles tradition began. It’s not easy finding a candle holder with four branches. One, two, and three stems seem most common. I didn’t like any of the commercial candleholders I found. So I decided if you can’t find one you like, make your own!

You will need

  • 4 votive candles
  • Label maker (or decorative markers)
  • 1 5 x 7 piece of stiff cardboard
  • Wrapping paper (could also use aluminum foil)
  • Ribbon or decorative bling, optional
  • Glue gun
  • tape
  • Scissors


  • Wrap the cardboard with paper or foil and tape
  • Glue the votive candles to the wrapped board
  • Glue the ribbon and any decorations to the board
  • Using a label maker (or sharpie markers) write out thes four words: grief, love, And attach to the votive holder
  • print out a copy of the Four Candles poem
  • *Do not leave flame unattended

Here’s a few more inspirational poems involving candles.

Alternatives: Use LED battery operated votive candles if you don’t wish an open flame. Upcycled Oui yogurt jars can be used as a candle holder, for a more permanent candle display. Pick and choose colors you like and that have meaning for you and your loved one.

When former family traditions no longer fit, it’s okay to create new ones.

Crafting Your Grief: Red Cardinal Memory Ornament

When November’s cool temperatures and colorful leaves arrive melancholy sets in. You see November celebrations – my birthday, my late husband’s birthday, our anniversary AND Thanksgiving are all crammed into this month…with Hanukkah and Christmas just around the corner. It can be a lot to handle. In the past two years I have discovered ways to ‘make’ my grief tolerable.

This post will be the first in a series called, Crafting Your Grief, where I will share with you hands on ways to express your grief, create new traditions, or memorialize a loved one.

Red Cardinal Memory Ornament

Supplies Needed:

  • Small plastic terrarium ornament
  • White modeling clay
  • Red cardinal
  • Bottlebrush pine tree
  • Ribbon or twine/Red bow with bell
  • Feather, white or red (optional)


  1. Using your fingers, spread the modeling clay into the bottom of the ornament. Insert tree and cardinal. Push each into the modeling clay and mold the clay around each item. Adding a feather is optional.
  2. Attach the holiday bow and bell onto the the ornament using a glue gun or glue dot. Just a dot of glue on the outside top of the ornament should hold bow/bell in place. Let the bells hang over the ornament for decorative effect and to allow them to chime.
  3. Let the glue and modeling clay dry. Your ornament is ready to hang.
  4. Optional: If you have a Cricut machine, create a name/date sticker to attach to the back of the ornament. Or use a black sharpie, to write name/dates. I left mine blank.


Red Cardinal


White feathers are a sign that the angels are with you right now. It signifies comfort, peace, purity, and protection.  What Does a Feather Symbolize?

“Feathers appear when angels are near.”


Watching It’s a Wonderful Life was an annual family tradition. I had to add a bell to my ornament!