By Jeannie Davis
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO GO into the Holiday Season without reflecting on things past. Happy times with our families around us. Children’s faces, unwrapping gifts, the faces of old friends and relatives, kitchen smells, and of course, the happy chatter of a full house. Of course, not all memories are happy. Some are dramatic and life-changing, as the birth of a child, marriage proposal, men home from the war. Some are incidental, as your husband struggling with an oversize tree, the flushed face of your mom coming in from the cold air, a secret glance across a room. Some are sad: the first Christmas without a loved one, the pain of Christmas in an unhappy home, being alone during this happy time.
This is all well and good as memories go. But, we know that as human beings, we have many many more memories, which do not fit into any of the above categories, and it could possibly be that we enjoy these even more than traditional ones. Casual outings and trivial chats which don’t seem memorable, yet, we find ourselves looking back with fondness. These are the memories we should indeed treasure, not the obvious staged Norman Rockwell images.
We need more of these. We need to create and store more of these unintentional happenings. After all, they say that our memories form a large part of who we are. They provide the coloring and flavor of our personalities, and strongly influence our outlooks.
But, what if our memories are unhappy? What if our childhoods were more Grinch than Norman Rockwell?What then? Simply make more! Create new happy times. Focus on positive friends, and even make new ones, interact eagerly with others, try new ventures.
That is not to suggest that we feverishly run about at-tending every event, talk to each person who crosses our path, or open our doors to the world. We need to be in the middle. Be open without being frantic. Let’s face it, some of us can get out and do things more than oth-ers. This limits our chances of having new experiences, or making new friends. What to do about this? Then we focus on what we can do and not what we can’t do.
Focus! That may be the key to those small, unplanned memories. I have discovered that by paying close attention to what is happening in the moment, observing everything around me at the time, listening, hearing, and even smelling. I stay in the moment. I don’t let my mind stray to what I have to do later, what happened that morning, or any other distraction. Stay in the conversation, not planning on what you are going to say, listen. Focus on the sights around you, decorations, how people are dressed, soak it in. Think about it, you will never be here in this moment again.
I find that by completely absorbing everything in front of me, my memories are fuller, and more frequent. Recently, Joyce, Virginia, and myself attended a gallery showing and lecture at the DIA, no big deal, just a pleasurable afternoon. In the gift store, I watched Joyce happily examine each article as she marveled at it. From a distance in the gallery, I noticed Virginia studying the costly tea and coffee services, and shake her head. At lunch, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on what we had just seen. All the way home, we chatted happily about the afternoon. I know that this will be a warm memory. And I am so happy I focused on every detail. So, let’s go out and make new memories. Pay attention to all the lovely things around you, all the people, and engage. Merry Christmas.