Memories

In any household, junk accumulates to fill the space available for its storage. ~Boston’s Irreversible Law of Clutter

They say one man’s trash is another’s treasure, but I can’t think of a single soul who’d be interested in the old storage shed Dallas told you about a couple of years ago.

It’s empty as a box of chocolates hours after Valentine’s Day.

But it’s still here.

Perhaps I should explain.

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Hope

Mired in darkness,
Gasping for air,
Overpowering tremors,
Haunting memories.
When will it end?

Restless sleep,
Relentless nightmares.
No peace by day,
No calm at night.
Bone-weary exhaustion.

A point of light appears
Far in the distance,
A beacon of hope
Is glimmering.
Hard to stay blue forever.

Taking baby steps
Toward normalcy.
Learning to trust
Through sheer willpower.
Don’t hurt me again.

Love or Hate Reunions?

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. — From the television show The Wonder Years

The beauties, the jocks, the popular crowd
Make an entrance, heads held aloft.
Still strong of body, smooth of skin, untouched
By challenges they couldn’t or wouldn’t face.

The geeks, nerds, shy ones, and unknowns
Slink in hoping not to draw attention.
Who’d have thought they’d grow into attractiveness?
All grab name tags, then gravitate to special friends from before.

Funny how the old cliques persist, years after graduation.

Five or ten years out, talk centers on accomplishments.
Who has married, how many babies, whose job is most promising.
There are golf outings, tennis matches, bowling, and such.
Drinks flow freely, and so does the food.

Fast forward to the golden years, when things typically slow down.
Weathered hands fumble for name tags, grateful at last
For a chance to put names to faces, to call a halt to
The endless “Bet you don’t remember me” game.

An assortment of canes, wheelchairs, and oxygen tanks appears.
The aging beauties and athletes don’t look one bit better
Than their counterpart nerds, geeks, and unpopular classmates.
Most are familiar with pain, have shaken hands with illness and death.

Talk of grand-babies, retirement, and which surgeons are best
For replacing knees and hearts grabs the attention of all present.
A slideshow reminds them who is no longer among the living.
Activities include sit-down dinners, coffee, and a tour of the old school.

Funny how the cliques fade away, the older classmates become.

Preserving our Memories

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~From the television show The Wonder Years

Today I finished the Memory Book I was compiling for My Favorite Domer (aka my son or College Guy), and I must admit it looks great!

Now don’t bother reminding me I’m not supposed to be “laboring” on the Sabbath. I know that!

However, no way do I consider scrapbooking “labor.”

Nope, unless you call it a labor of love, which it surely was!

I have countless friends who are into the hobby of scrapbooking. They spend lots of time — and money — browsing craft stores for just the right binder, colorful inside pages, cutesy decorations, stickers, fancy scissors, bric-a-brac, etc. Then they spend equal amounts of time cutting things out, gluing them down, measuring and re-measuring until the finished product is a work of perfection.

They love scrapbooking and wouldn’t consider giving it up.

I never thought I’d join them — not until my son’s senior year in high school, when one of his teachers had all her classes do a Memory Book.

On a regular basis throughout the year the kids had to compose an essay on a certain topic (My Favorite Vacation, A Person I Wish I Could See Again, My Early School Years, Middle School, My Family Tree, My Special Gifts and Talents, My Future Plans, and so on). These essays were to be grouped (with photos, ticket stubs, and other treasures) into a Memory Book.

It had to look nice because it was for a grade.

Wise teacher, huh? She probably knew kids that age wouldn’t bother unless there was something in it for them!

Anyway, because much of the information to be included was stuff my son didn’t know, I had to help.

What started out as a labor became a labor of love and a really good bonding tool. We spent countless hours poring over photos, reminiscing over his early years, and enjoying each other’s company. I still get misty-eyed over some of his essays, particularly the one he wrote about his grandpa (my dad, who passed away in 2008).

When my son became a College Guy, I instructed him to save everything. Ticket stubs, pictures, programs, honors, awards, everything.

He’s a bit of a pack-rat, so that was no problem; however, he drew the line at writing more essays or cutting or gluing or organizing.

Those jobs (minus the essays!) fell to me.

He now has three Memory Books, one for each of the last three years. He says he’s glad I’m doing them, but I know he’ll be even more glad several years into the future. Time has a way of erasing things that photos, songs, and stories help us recall.

What are you doing to preserve the past so you can relive it in the future?

Nostalgia in a Pickle Jar

I spent Christmas along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, visiting my sis and her family and soaking up some warmer weather (though they, too, had some nights below freezing!)

When you’re away from home base for several days, you find yourself attending a different church, patronizing different restaurants and stores, and running into different people than usual.

I want to recapture some of those experiences here.

One of the churches I attended has a custom — after the adults’ collection plate has been passed — of inviting the children to come forward and drop their donations into a huge glass pickle jar to be given to charity.

Because of the holidays, the kids were dressed to the nines. Fancy crinoline dresses, little Christmas vests, bows in hair, khaki trousers, patent Mary Janes.

They looked darling.

They also seemed a bit hesitant about dropping their coins and bills into the jar (fortunately, no one reached back in to retrieve their donation!)

Anyway, one little girl with dark curls, a satin-looking red dress, and matching red shoes was the last to give. When she finished, she balked at leaving the altar, holding her arms up until daddy rescued her and carried her back to the pew.

The whole church giggled.

Grandparents and those of us with older kids reminisced over days gone by; parents of younger kids were all-too-familiar with the scene.

It brought to mind something My Favorite Domer said recently about how Christmas “just isn’t as much fun” as it was when he was little.

No toys, not as many presents, nothing from Santa.

Well, duh!

Part of me wanted to argue that his “toys” now are much more expensive than when he was little and to snidely tell him, “Welcome to the adult world,” but I stopped myself.

What if he’s right?

Does growing up have to make us jaded? Can’t we find a way to approach the holidays with childlike wonder, to enjoy and fully live in the present without sacrificing memories of the past?

A quiet New Year’s Eve

I always feel like an “old soul” on New Year’s Eve.

And it doesn’t have a thing to do with my age!

There’s just too much mischief and noise and forced revelry for me. Too many exploding fireworks, too many drunks on the road, too many expectations of serious fun, too many “Year in Review” lists.

It seems as if everybody is looking back, when I’d much prefer looking ahead!

As a kid, I loved staying up late to watch the New Year’s specials on TV and share a toast with the grown-ups. Maybe it was the chance to postpone bedtime; maybe it was the treat of “toasting” with sparkling grape juice or even a soda; maybe it was the joy of listening to “teenaged music” without parental grumbling for a change!

Fast-forward several years. My ex-husband and his family introduced me to their custom of banging pots to celebrate the new year. They’d all march out to the front porch — pans and pots and kitchen utensils in hand — and beat the living daylights out of them. I never knew if it was to frighten the “bad spirits” or “make a joyful noise to the Lord.”

After My Favorite Domer came along, I found myself working many New Year’s Days so I could spend Christmas with him. Consequently, New Year’s Eve was pretty much a non-event and like as not, found me fast asleep when the ball dropped in New York City!

Probably my favorite New Year’s Eve, though, came when I was in college. I spent the weekend with a girlfriend after a bowl game, and the two of us each had two dates in one night! We got bored with the first pair of guys and ditched them early — pleading headaches, or some such excuse! — then promptly went right back out with two new guys and had a blast. The midnight hour found us chomping French fries and guzzling hot chocolate in a 24-hour diner!

Totally out of character, I know, but fun anyway.

Suffice it to say, my “stick-in-the-mud” ways mean I won’t be nursing a hangover tomorrow. I won’t be moaning my lack of sleep or wondering how I got home or what happened to my car.

I won’t have spent more money than I could afford, won’t have eaten or drunk myself into misery, won’t have lost a finger or an eye to a firecracker.

A quiet New Year’s Eve really isn’t so bad, after all.