I think my Nanny loved Christmas more than we did, even as kids! Her favorite Christmas song was Silent Night, too. I think about her every time I hear that song. She started having strokes & dementia set in in 1999. That Christmas was harder than the first Christmas after she died in 2005. For us, the Nanny we knew had been gone for almost six years before she died. 2005 was our first Christmas with out new baby too, as I was pregnant with DD when Nanny died. DD is a lot like Nanny sometimes! We will always miss her, but we think of her in the first 79 healthy years, not the last sick 6 years.
Nanny's husband, my Pappaw, died two days before Thanksgiving in 1981. We buried him on Thanksgiving Day. Talk about depressing. No turkey dinner that year and lots of tears. Christmas that year was hard on my family and every year on Christmas Eve, my Nanny & uncle ended up shedding a few tears because they missed him so much. However, their belief was that the children still needed a happy Christmas and they would carry on the best they could. That first Christmas, we had our festivities at our house instead of Nanny's house since the wound was still so fresh. After that, we went back to Nanny's for Christmas every year. We tried to keep that up even after she got sick, but it really got depressing because she didn't like lots of people around and would get upset. After two Christmases of that, we decided to have Christmas at my parent's house next door and have a caregiver stay with Nanny during that time. It hurt, but it was better for everyone that way.
Our loved ones would want us to be happy, so that's how I try to think of it!