December 25, 2014
I am in the passenger seat of our car basking in the aftermath of a lovely, relaxing Christmas morning with my husband and son. After a whirlwind holiday last year of cramming in and maximizing time, we made a necessary decision to simplify this year- to slow down and actually enjoy Christmas as our own family unit. To sleep in our own beds and wake up by our own Christmas tree.
Now it is early afternoon, and as we get on the highway to visit family and keep the holiday going, I find myself with more time… Time to reflect, pray and remember. So many wonderful memories are filling my mind. My childhood Christmases when my siblings and I would open up a game to play while we waited for my dad to wake up. STOCKINGS! I have always loved that part. Spending the afternoon playing with my toys and trying on my clothes. I remember being a teenager and driving with my brother and sister to my grandparents’ house on Christmas afternoon. It was a time to talk and reflect and listen to music. A ritual we had while making that drive was to play Everything But the Girl’s song “25th December”. There’s a line in it that keeps running through my head today…
“Oh I never, no I never ever realized”
Memories are so mysterious. We look back and romanticize and glamorize and immortalize. But when we are there, we don’t tend to realize. It’s funny what stands out in my mind now from my childhood. It’s not the big moments I thought it would be. It’s so many snapshots. Random experiences with people I love. A joke that turns into an inside joke that turns into a family story. It’s a look that sums up a relationship with perfect clarity. A smell that triggers a stage of life; not one particular moment, but the culmination of experiences that becomes a single memory.
So is it useless to try to remember? If we take enough pictures or videos, will we ever be able to fully recreate the moment? Or does trying to remember actually take us out of the moment?
December 28, 2014
Here I am again, reflecting and typing in the passenger seat of our car on our way back home. After our lovely Christmas morning opening presents and starting new traditions in our home, we spent the rest of Christmas day making memories and connecting with loved ones. Now, a few days later, I am already beginning to look back and sort through events and interactions and moments to see what stands out. I remember the moment when Dave discovered that the robot dog we got Josh for Christmas was set to Spanish mode instead of English. I remember Josh opening up his pogo stick from my sister and seeing the genuine excitement in his eyes. I remember playing Calico Critters with my niece Aimee and laughing uncontrollably when her tiny toy rabbit’s ear broke off. I have those memories, but I also have a feeling. When I think about Christmas Day 2014, I hope I remember it as sweet, connected and special. I pray that I remember the warmth I experienced throughout the day and the depth and genuineness I felt from loved ones. When I look at pictures from that day, my wish is that they will not only spark memories of events, but also the feeling I felt that day and continue to feel now as I look back.
We don’t really know what will hold in our minds when we recall certain events and experiences. Since we don’t know what will stick, we have even more of a responsibility to be present- not to let moments pass us by, and also not to put too much focus on remembering any single moment that we aren’t actually “in it”. When we sit back and watch, let’s also lean forward and engage. When we grab for our cameras to capture a moment, let’s also pause and look at it with our own eyes first. Let’s laugh and cry together so that our memories can be connected to our relationships. Because from my experience, the memories that stick the most are the ones I share with others.
Let’s be present this new year. Let’s be engaged in life and relationships so that our collective experiences will produce shared memories and deepen our connections to others. But let’s also remember that, as hard as we try to be present, there will always be times when we will think, “I never, no I never ever realized”. After all, there are some experiences that cannot be fully realized without the passage of time. And there are gifts in those moments, too. But my prayer is that I will continue to learn to be more fully present and realize the beauty and pain and complexity of life all around me. Because even when it hurts, I would rather be present in my life than absent. I would rather remember than forget.
Especially the precious moments, like these.