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It took me most of the day to decorate the big tree in our main room.
I have been re-reading “Slowing Down in a Speeded Up World.” I have owned it for many years and I have absolutely no idea where I got it. It’s just a humble little paperback, but it brings me back to what’s truly important, every time I take the time to contemplate the lessons inside.
That explains why it took me a good six hours to decorate the tree.
Almost every single ornament means something significant to me. I decided to really slow down and give each memory a few minutes of play time in my head.
Some of our ornaments were handmade by the kids. Wisely, I always took a sharpie and wrote their names and the year on the back or bottom. I suppose I knew that 34 years from then, I would have no clue as to which kid had made what. I was right.
So, when I picked up an ornament made by my three or four year old, I took the time to remember him or her or that age. I remembered the giver of ornaments that I received from friends. I felt immensely grateful for those memories, most of which were happy, some of which were bittersweet or even downright sad.
But even most of the ones that were painful to think about went onto the tree. All of those ornaments, with their mixed memories, are the story of my past.
I looked at a few that I had made from salt dough, back before I was first married. I nearly threw them out, but then I remembered who I was, back when I was making them. I was in my late 20’s and I made these ornaments while dreaming of what my future life would hold, if I were lucky. The amazing thing is, I pretty much got almost everything I wanted.
But I felt a real tenderness toward my younger self, full of dreams of a husband and lots of kids giving me a life of happy chaos. And they certainly did that.
Some of the ornaments were ones that I inherited from my former husband, who died 10 years ago. I am saving them for my younger daughters, if they want them. It might be that the memories will be too painful for them and they’ll turn down my offer. And that’s fine, too.
They filled me with a great deal of sadness because, even though we were divorced, we were good friends until he died. I continued to love him, even though his actions were making me furious.
Seeing his handwriting on his ornaments kind of broke my heart. And, of course, the ones that belonged to the daughter that left our family did, as well.
I confess, two of those I re-wrapped and put back into the Christmas bin. But only after I had taken the time to remember her, in happier times. I let myself miss her and then wrapped them up for next year.
Then I said a prayer that next year, I’ll be able to put her’s back onto the tree, and it will be a happy thing.
I am a very fortunate person and every day I feel grateful for the people in my life that I love and cherish, whether they are with us or not.
Take the time, if you can. Maybe you won’t have 3 minutes per ornament, but a few seconds will do, in a pinch.
If you’d like this little book, here’s a link for you. It would be a great gift for someone on your list. But treat yourself, too. They’re all used, but who cares?
It’s never too late.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!