Now that the Christmas Holiday is over, and there are 364 more shopping days until the next one, it’s time to consider the memories.
In the days leading up to this Christmas, I took some time to recall my other fifty-nine Christmas Days. I tried to think of those many gifts I received and remember.
I had to think a moment.
I do recall one gift from when I was about twelve or thirteen years old. A time when I considered myself sophisticated by having outgrown the need for Santa Claus. My parents got me an electric guitar. A gift that was so far beyond my expectations as to make it seem impossible.
Of all the gifts, I can still see that moment in my mind’s eye as the reality of the instrument in my hands took hold. I am sure they experienced some buyer’s remorse as I fought to learn Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and a host of other bands not on my parent’s playlist.
It is this single gift that I can recall with little effort.
Now I know for a fact I received hundreds of Christmas gifts over the years. Gifts from family and friends who spent time and money picking out things for me. I know they put much care and thought into the process.
And yet, despite knowing this, I cannot recall them without great effort.
I do recall the faces and voices of those who, once being a big part of Christmas, have now passed away.
But I do not remember the gifts.
I remember the family gatherings around Christmas.
But I do not remember any of the gifts, given or received.
Of all those many gifts, long faded into the fog of hidden memories, there are few I remember.
But I do remember the moments of Christmas. The moments of waking on a Christmas morning and making your way to the tree.
The faces of my parents at the excitement of sharing Christmas with a child.
The first Christmas with my wife as we started our own traditions.
The first Christmas with my daughter, just a month old, who had no idea of what all our excitement was about
The many more Christmases as my daughter went from an infant to a young woman.
She is now married and hosting Christmas as her own. Yet all those gifts vanish into lost memories.
These things I remember. Not the gifts, not the giving, not the receiving but the people that I shared those moments with.
This I recall.
We forget that these gifts are but the dust of life and our time with those we care about will pass with alarming speed.
Hold onto the memories of the things that matter, not the memory of things themselves.
All these years my subconscious knew what was important. It preserved the important memories and hid away the insignificant.
Perhaps it is time to pay attention.