All kinds of memories come rushing back to us in just about every form imaginable at this time of year. Some are memories we would soon like to forget, while others are the ones we want to hold on to forever. Some are bittersweet; filled with both good and bad and will often make us feel bad or bring tears to our eyes. This is about one of my bittersweet memories.
Here, is my story.
Many years ago I had a friend, my best friend really, who would help me with all the holiday decorations, shopping and the many of food items we loved to cook and share with our family and friends. She was always a big part of my holiday and decorating. We would bake and put together for a party that we hosted on the 23rd of December. That all changed when her life ended very suddenly as a result of domestic violence. It was a terrible time, one that was, and still is, etched in my mind.
The following year, as the holidays approached, I had a very difficult time getting into the spirit of the season. I became angry at what I said was the futility of doing all this stuff when it really didn’t seem to mattered much, and no one really seemed to notice or care. The only thing that seemed to matter to anyone were the gifts or money they received. I was angry at everyone and everything and mourned for my friend. I still did what I always did, but my heart wasn’t in it.
As the years wore on I began to do less and less until I finally did nothing at all. When that happened I can remember my husband asking if we were going to have a tree that year, I answered no and we didn’t.
So what changed that spurred me into getting back into the holiday spirit? Was it that enough time had passed? Was it because I missed all the fun and excitement that came with the season? The answer was something so simple that you would not have even noticed if you hadn’t been paying attention.
It was early October, and the holiday season seemed far away. While I was out in my garden, one of my neighbors happened to be passing by and stopped to chat. In our conversation, she asked if I were going to decorate this year. Her question surprised me because that was the FURTHEST thing from my mind. My answer was noncommittal. She looked a little sad, and I enquired why the long face. She said, and I quote. “I so looked forward to your lights and all that you did. It always lifted my spirits, and I know that others felt the same. It was as if the spirit had arrived and it would get us all in the mood, and we would follow suit. Because of your lights, the holidays seemed so much brighter”. She went on the say “I know it must be a lot of work and I understand why you haven’t done it for a while, but I just thought I would share my thoughts for what it’s worth”. We went on to talk about my garden, her work and the weather, and she then she walked on.
At the time, I hadn’t thought much more about the conversation. As Thanksgiving approached that conversation came back to me, and I started to think about why I really celebrated the holidays as I had in the past. It had never occurred to me that anyone really noticed or cared that I did what I did except my friend and I.
My husband and I had the usual quiet Thanksgiving, one without much fanfare. Something must have stirred inside me because without thinking I brought out our tree and decorations. I called a few friends and hired someone to help with the outside lights, and before I knew it, I was back in the spirit. This time I did it for myself. My neighbors made a point to mentioned how much they were enjoying the lights and some started to join in (again).
This year as I was decorating my home, with the help of friends and hired help, I remembered my friend from the past and how much she looked forward to helping me decorate and all the things that followed. The best part is I now remember her in happier times, and it makes me smile.
I have learned that there are many things we can’t change. Her loss was certainly a great tragedy and one I will not forget. However, I am blessed with great memories of her and other loved ones that have past on. I have a great family, wonderful friends and have much to be thankful for; all worth celebrating.
Of this I know, there will always be things that happen that can derail us. It is up to us to not allow that to happen. We can choose to live in painful memories or celebrate the ones that can bring us joy and happiness. I, for one, choose to summon up the best of my memories and to be happy.
What are some of your bittersweet memories? I would love to hear your stories.
Life’s journey continues…
PS: If you loved this, check out my other stories, recipes and wine recommendations such as, Over The River & Through The Wood, Mom & A Thanksgiving Turkey, Baked Pears in the Microwave and La Merika Pinot Noir 2010. Enjoy.