findingourwaynow.comAll 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 findingourwaynow.comthe 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.

findingourwaynow.comThe 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 findingourwaynow.comgoing 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.

findingourwaynow.comAt 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,findingourwaynow.com 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 findingourwaynow.commany 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.

findingourwaynow.com

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 WoodMom & A Thanksgiving TurkeyBaked Pears in the Microwave and La Merika Pinot Noir 2010. Enjoy. 

Don’t forget:
Subscribe via email | Like me on Facebook | Follow me on Twitter | Subscribe to my YouTube Channel




New to Disqus? Check out my tutorial

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes some memories can get in the way of enjoying life. I agree that it is up to us not let them stop us from finding joy.

    Did you take these pictures? If so you are one talented lady.

    Merry Christmas, HB

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi HB, Thank you. It’s easy to hold on the some really bad memories. It is conversely much better when we let them go.

      Yes, the photographs are mine and of some of the decorations in and around our home. Thanks for such a nice complement. Happy Holidays to you too. :-)

  • Pingback: Black Bean Soup | Finding Our Way Now

  • Jon Jefferson

    Decorating in my house is a love hate relationship this time of year. My wife and kids are all raring to go but you can’t let them loose too soon. With my wife her excitement builds up so much that if we don’t open presents soon she gets bored. So it is up to me to get the timing right to balance everything (of course I am just the man so I have no real power here).

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Jon, I find that it’s that way for many. Man or not… LOL… good luck with keeping the balance in your home during this time. :-)

  • Doreen Pendgracs

    Susan: I think that our enthusiasm for the holidays experiences the same ebb & flow as other things in our lives that take energy. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t, and sometimes we can find it if we are encouraged.

    The holidays always make me think of my cousin, who was very good at showing love, being caring, and appreciating the good in every situation. She was dying of cancer and within days of losing her life … yet, when surveyed by hospital staff as to the quality of life she was feeling, she gave it a 10/10! I was stunned, as I sat by her bedside, knowing that she had so much pain that she had to be on a morphine drip, and that she had to be lifted with a hoist to go to the bathroom bc/ she couldn’t stand up any longer. But b/c of the care she felt from friends, family, and the hospital staff, she still gave her quality of life a 10/10 . What an inspiration to us all to appreciate the love and kindness in our lives.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Doreen, It really is that way isn’t it. It’s funny how cathartic it was to just go for that year in memory of my friend.

      What an inspiration your cousin must have been to all around her. I was touch by your story. Thank you for sharing it. :-)

  • Rebecca Rider

    Thanks for sharing this story! I love reading your posts – and it’s interesting the way the things we do can have a positive impact on others without our even realizing it!

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Rebecca, Thank so much… I just never know if others find what I write helpful or interesting. You made my day.

      How true that is. If never hadn’t approached me, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to get back into the spirit. :-)

  • http://profiles.google.com/amkovacs Anne-Marie Kovacs

    I haven’t been decorating much for a few years now. Just the minimum really, mostly because I still have teens at home. I’m not sure what got me “turned off” from decorating. Certainly nothing significant like your story. Perhaps just fatigue, and, as you ask, who notices anyway? But, you are right, there is joy to be found in the season and definitely, decorating, does brighten the spirit. Thanks for the reminder. I will be putting up the tree and a few fun extras this year!

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Anne-Marie, I get that. Life is so hectic at times, it’s hard to add to an already busy schedule, especially at this time of year. Good luck with your decorating and have fun. :-)

  • Elizabeth Scott

    Susan,
    Your story really touched my heart! I will admit that the last few years, I have been going through the motions. You made me realize how important it really is to let go of the hurts and worries and enjoy the time we have. I have young children still at home and I need to make memories before they are grown. Make traditions that they can pass on to their families. Thank you for the reminder that life is too short to let it pass by.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Elizabeth, That absolutely true. Memories that are created stay with you for a lifetime. Have fun with it this year. I know I will. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/m4bmarketing Susan Oakes

    One thing that struck me about your story Susan is your friend probably would not have wanted you to stop enjoying the season. That said people need to take time in their own way and now it looks like the right time for you. Having a close family member die on Christmas Eve brings all sorts of memories and like you now I decided to celebrate and remember the good times.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Susan, Boy isn’t that the truth. There was a time it just didn’t feel right. Happy, now it does and I and so enjoying it, especially the fond memories I have of my friend. :-)

  • Pat Ruppel

    Such a touching story with a powerful message. Thank you for reminding me that no matter whether holidays or everyday life, it’s attitude and what we make of it.
    You wrote a good one this time and touched my heart :-)

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Pat. You touched mine with your kind words. It’s never easy to just let go of something like this. When we can, it is very freeing and cathartic. :-)

  • http://www.bindu.ca/ Bindhurani

    You are again back to celebrating the holidays. I am glad about that. It might be a big realization for you that you were making many people happy. Think of the ways we touch other lives. Isn’t it amazing!

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Bindu, Thank you. It feels good to enjoy the holidays and remember my friend in the good times. I agree, it is amazing. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/YLTL Dan Meyers

    Wow, incredible story. It’s funny how we never really do anything that only affects us… it always impacts someone else whether we know it or not. Great reminder of what the holiday spirit is truly about.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Dan, That is so very true. Sometimes the littlest things have the greatest impact.

  • John

    That’s a great story Susan and probably not easy to recall. I know for my mother it will not be a joyous time this year as she lost her husband and our father recently.
    It’s difficult to move on but eventually we create new memories and new traditions with other people. After all the holidays are about people.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi John, I am so sorry for her and your loss. I do agree, but it isn’t always easy at times. Merry Christmas to you as well. :-)

  • Liz

    I love seeing the homes all done up, but like you were, until recently, I don’t have it in me to deck the halls. It is my husband who has wanted the decorations up lately. Qu’el surprise! May your home be blessed with the spirit of love during this season! Hugs to you , Susan!

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Liz, Sometime it takes a nudge from someone else to get us there, doesn’t it? Much love and hugs back my friend.

  • Gina Baker

    I don’t know that I have anything specific… but holidays have just not been great for me in a long time- ever since my parents got divorced. However, my dad invited my mom this past Thanksgiving and things went pretty well. So hopefully it gets better. Lovely pictures, BTW.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Gina, It can be that way at times. I am so glad that it appears the there is a healing of old wounds. Time has a way of doing that.

      Thanks, the pictures were fun to take and play with. :-)

  • Lubna

    Thank you, Susan, for brightening up the life of those you come into contact with. Happy holidays.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Lubna, What a very lovely thing to say. Thank you my friend and to you too. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/artyyah A.K.Andrew

    Such a fantastic story Susan, and I’m very happy for you that you were able to change things around. Things do change for us over the years and eventually Christmases past are often haunted , as you said , by bittersweet memories. I don’t celebrate as much as I used to, but we have a small tree we usually get with some miniature ornaments we have kept from a very close friend of our who died over 20 yrs ago. But you have to live in the present, and which is not always easy. A truly moving story. I loved the photo’s too.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi A.K. Thanks and so am I. That is so true. In the end it was up to me to celebrate who my friend was. She would have never wanted me to stop doing what we both so loved doing together. In a strange way, by giving others pleasure I am honoring her memory. :).

      The photographs were fun for me. I took many more pictures then I showcases. Some may show up in future posts :)

  • John Barton

    “there will always be things that happen that can derail us. It is up to us to not allow that to happen.” Once again you get to the essence of emotion and don’t tell anyone but I shed a little tear when reading your blog. It was just a few words that got me going! I remember sadness and even some regrets but as you say “there will always be things that happen that can derail us. It is up to us to not allow that to happen.” Best wishes and happy memories. John

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi John, Thanks John, Isn’t that the way? A few words can say volumes. My holiday wish for you that it is all that hope for and more. :-)

  • claudiajustsaying

    I’m a quasi decorator hope I can follow your lead and get really in the spirit. I put up the tree and love it and I will be touring the White House at Christmas next week. Claudia

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Claudia, When we do something that gives us pleasure it infectious, isn’t it? I am so jealous, I would love to see the White House at this time of year. Have fun.

  • http://twitter.com/JeriWB Jeri Walker-Bickett

    Your story reminds me of a friend who once told me she didn’t take down her Christmas tree until Easter. She was a single mom with four kids at the time and just couldn’t deal with the added stress of the holidays. It’s ironic that we often deal with strife by closing ourselves off to the things that can help bring us joy.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Jeri, Why do you think we do that? Is it because we a think it’s easier? In reality it only makes it that much harder by making us more aware of what it is we are doing. I hope your holidays are full of joy and much fun, my friend. :-)

  • Kelly Wade

    Wow, I can see how that would be incredibly difficult and make the season a little bit harder. It’s true though that sometimes your unaware of the effect your own actions have on others and that what you do can actually improve other’s lives, no matter how small. I really liked this story, thanks so much for sharing.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Kelly, It has taken me awhile but I finally got there. :-). I know what you mean. It’s funny how that can happen from just the simplest conversation.

      Thanks you. It pleases me greatly that you enjoyed my story. :-)

  • Adrienne Jones

    Lovely story. It’s always good to find out that someone appreciates our hard work, especially for something no one needs to do like decorating for the holidays. I’m glad that conversation helped you feel the spirit a bit more!

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Adrienne, Thank you. It really did help. Funny how that can works sometimes, huh. :-)

  • Vikki

    It was a very touching story. Definitely carried the holiday spirit.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Thank Vicki, It really has. Thank you for stopping by. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/geekgirlusa Cheryl Therrien

    Thanks for sharing this story. It’s another example of how we influence other people’s lives even when we may not be aware we are doing it.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Cheryl, That is so true. It is the simplest phrases that can have the greatest impact at times. :-)

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    Susan — such a touching story. Of all my nearby friends, I’m the only one who puts up a tree and decorates. They are so appreciative when they come to my home. It brings me great joy. Right now I’m grumbling about all the work — about to decorate the tree and living room is filled with boxes. But when company arrives on Saturday it will be magical to share the holiday with the people I care about.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Jeannette, I had to laugh because when I saw your comment I was doing and thinking exactly the same thing. But when my friends arrived their reaction was magical and it made it all worth the effort. Happy Holidays my friend. :-)

  • http://www.Empower2Go.com Martin Casper

    Susan…this is a real thought provoking story. Thanks for sharing. Over the years, due to the commercialization of Christmas, I have become disillusioned with all aspects of Christmas. However, your authentic account of your story gives me this thought to bear…our influence is so powerful. Whether it is Christmas or no holiday at all, what we do really counts and can make the difference in someone else’s life. Thanks again.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Martin, I love how you got the lesson. it isn’t so much about the season or time, it’s the spirit we carry into it. The simplest things we say and do can have profound impact on someone. Happy Holidays, :-)

  • Anne

    Thank you Susan you have inspired me to put more effort into the Festive season than I usually do.

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Anne, You are so welcome and I hope your holidays are the best every this year. :-)

  • Crack You Whip

    Actually, your posts brighten up my day! I stopped decorating years ago for the same reasons. I figured no one cared, why should I? Maybe one day I’ll stop being a grinch and get back into the spirit, but this does help.

    Always beautiful posts from you…

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi my friend, I’m so glad I was able to brighten you day. When you’re ready and the spirit moves you you will have a great deal of fun. Happy Holidays, :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.thompson.906638 Rebecca Thompson

    I really enjoyed this post Susan. As you know from my previous posts I too have lost so much, but it is so nice to turn that devastation around and make happy memories.
    I’m so glad you decorated. It is funny how others can find so much happiness in something so simple :)

    • http://findingourwaynow.com/ Susan Cooper

      Hi Rebecca, We do have much in common, don’t we? It’s not always easy to see the good when a tragedy strikes, but time does help that.

      Me too, My neighbors have been so gracious with expressing their appreciation that is have warmed my heart. I feel my friend smiling done on me every time some says something. :-)

  • Pingback: Duct Tape & Extension Cords: Story | Finding Our Way Now

  • Pingback: An A-Ha Moment: Story | Finding Our Way Now

  • Pingback: Twas The Night Before Christmas: Story/Poem - Finding Our Way Now

  • Pingback: That Holiday Feeling: Story - Finding Our Way Now

  • Pingback: Black Bean Soup: Recipe - Finding Our Way Now