For this year’s holiday celebration we’re hosting a large group of people at our home. Some of our guests are traveling from as far away as California and Canada. We won’t exchange material gifts to mark the occasion. Rather, we’ll make memories—the best kind of gift.
When I think back over the years, very few tangible presents come rushing to the forefront of my mind. Of course I remember getting my first bicycle. And the year I got a microscope — I desperately wanted to be a mad scientist. I also remember getting white go-go boots, orange fish net stockings, and frosted Yardley lipstick.
However, I can recall with ease the feeling of this holiday, the mental pictures etched on my heart — the memories. Nat King Cole’s velvety voice crooning from the record player. Sticky hands from popcorn balls that grandma helped us make. Caroling door-to-door with the neighborhood kids.
I can remember mouth-watering aromas wafting from the kitchen where mom and grandma danced the age old two-step of food preparation. And sneaking black olives from the relish tray on the dining room table; putting one on the end of each finger and then eating them off — quick! — before I got caught.
I remember a clear sense of belonging, of being loved, and of everything being right in my world. Memories endure.
What memories have you made this holiday season?
“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan
Discovering the Seven Selves Life Harmony Facebook
© 2012 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved
I heard Nat King Cole in the car yesterday and was nearly brought to tears by his voice.
ProductHoochie – Isn’t it interesting how a song can transport us immediately to a particular memory? Especially those that trigger happy tears…
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, Laurie! How wonderful that you do not need to exchange presents—you exchange the gift of Presence. So grateful for your presence. I just love you, too.
Kathy – I love what you shared here about exchanging presence instead of presents. yes, Yes, YES!
My Christmas memories are a bit fragmented since we were a military family and moved year-to-year. I do remember sitting on Santa’s lap when I was 6 asking for a box of 64-color crayons and actually getting them. I definitely appreciate my mother now for listening back then. I am thankful for the gift of your presence here, Laurie and wish you and your family a very happy Christmas.
Barbara K. – Thank you for the gift of your reflection here today. It made me remember my first “big girl” box of crayons — I was so proud that everyone thought I was grown up enough to handle them properly 🙂
Children and grandchildren all this week. First time we will all be together except my mother who passed Sept 17. I so wanted her to be here for this. I heard her voice in my sleep the other night. It woke me. She IS here.
Carl – Yes, indeed. Your mother is right there 🙂 And oh-how-wonderful for you to have the gift of your children and grandchildren’s presence.
PS Black olive pizza my favorite
Carl – That sounds delicious!
Christmas is… different for me this year. Circumstances (choices) have me spending it alone. I had convinced myself, or so I thought, to pretend it doesn’t exist this year. Impossible. This season has always been an important part of my life, as crazy as it would get some years, the memories created are a part of me. So instead of denying Christmas–I’m letting the memories of past Christmas’ hold me close. The greatest gift of all is the memories that will always be with me, and the new ones still to come. Merry Christmas Laurie, may you make some wonderful memories this year.
Genevieve – “So instead of denying Christmas–I’m letting the memories of past Christmas’ hold me close.” That’s a powerful statement; followed by the fact that you’re looking forward to “new ones still to come.” I love the positivity in your mindset 🙂
Wishing the Merriest Christmas in memory making for you Laurie…
your memories brought smiles..
I grew up with Nat King Cole, even had those go-go boots, orange fishnet stockings( I had made the perfect dress, I think we called them swingers? that was green and orange)
and that was the only time I ever wore lipstick I did like the frost glow LOLs…
I did green olives,
today I am sitting here thinking about what I am suppose to be doing to be doing and decided a cup of coffee watching the deer and geese was more important…
You have a wonderful day with friends and families…
LadyBlueRose – Thank you for the gift of your reflection. I think your decision of watching deer and geese while enjoying a cup of coffee is excellent!
May this Xmas also be an amazing one with a world of sweet memories 🙂
Merry Xmas 🙂
Britton – thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU 🙂
I love the memories too! Lovely words. I am still in bed as I write this. Because 2 new stories are etching in the memory systems right now: it is snowing here! I do not remember a single white Christmas ever. #2. We are making ,designing , 600 buttons to give to Librarian daughter’s magnificent readers! We are laughing and talking and sharing the success of those kids reading accomplishments. Best wishes and joy to all. Thanks for your good words
Patricia – It sounds like you had a beyond wonderful time! Especially because you got to share it with your daughter – icing on the cake!
Laurie, your post was so perfect for one young boy of ten this Christmas. He didn’t have much under the tree. In fact, only one gift from me. It wasn’t that this was his only gift but it was the only one that was under the tree where there were several presents for the baby and toddler. He tried to hide his disappointment but kept waiting hopefully until the last gift was handed out.
Later, with heartbreaking resignation, he quietly acknowledged – “I hate growing up!”
I agreed with him that it is hard to get older and know that of course you are well loved and that some gifts you are given do not get wrapped and put under the tree and yet you are still hoping and wanting some to be there. It is hard especially when the little kids and babies still get lots of gifts. I felt really sad for him at that moment and told him if I could have done anything to make it better at that point I would have done it. But somethings, no matter how much you love someone it cannot be fixed.
We made peppermint tea and then he made me a light sabre on his phone. When the tea was drank and the phone had played out its battery we visited in the dark until our voices grew weary. We both knew that no present could take the place of our time together.
Then this morning after his dad and aunt hade made waffles on the old cast iron pans and the house was full of the warm voices of family visiting, your post arrived. I read it from beginning to end to him. His face lit up “coming here for Christmas is a memory.” We grinned at each other partly just because it was nice to know that we were not the only ones who shared very few material gifts at Christmas. I know without asking that the heartbreak of last night has been solidly replaced and anchored with something new, something bigger, something your post has beenmpart of influencing.
Merry Christmas Laurie 🙂
Terrill – “We both knew that no present could take the place of our time together.” Oh my gosh, your response made me cry with joy.
“We both knew that no present could take the place of our time together.” Thank you so much for sharing this here.
It is wonderful to read of your “Christmas memories” being the best part of this holiday.
Blessings to you Laurie, and yours.
Ann – I trust that you and yours enjoyed a wonderful holiday celebration. May your New Year be filled with health and joy!
I had 3 days of celebration with different friends each day 🙂 Lots of yummy food.
Ann – Oh, how fun is that?!
Thank you Laurie for this wonderful post and all the memories you an everyone has shared. I do remember one Christmas at church (at that point we were still using a school gym) … the priest spoke about “the Presence being the present.” Of course, he was speaking about a spiritual Presence. And I also think especially at gatherings family and friends … how much I do appreciate the present of the presence of love among us. I have been spoiled by having much of my family close by for much of my life. Now, we are spreading farther apart geographically. I / we will need to be ever more intentional about being present to each other. Yesterday’s gathering at my sister and brother in-law’s was perfect; we did share material presents (fun too!) … and the greatest joys were when the little ones got excited about something precious to them. I hold all the memories of the day in my heart.
Audrey – Thank you for sharing the gift of your reflection here today. It sounds like your gathering was beyond wonderful!
My wife made a memory cup out of a Mason jar. We all took turns putting our memories of our time with Mom and Dad into the jar, then reading them aloud. I think everyone cried.
Love this idea!
Tim – Oh my gosh, that sounds like a fantastic idea! Thank you for sharing it here.
Laurie, it sounds like you and the other blog readers had a lovely Christmas holiday with lots of joyful and loving memories. Thank you for sharing and letting me peek into everyone’s celebrations.
Our holiday celebrations and memories were filled with time-honored Channukah tradtions with our family enjoying yummy latkes, my grandmother’s recipe for butter cookie in dreidel and Stars of David shapes, songs and lighting our menorahs.
This year we added a “memorial” menorah to remember our family’s loved ones who are no longer at our celebrations, but in our hearts; to remember our 6 million Jewish brothers and sisters who were murdered during the Inquisition and Holocaust; and any other people who are pursecuted and not able to enjoy the religious freedom to celebrate their holidays in peace with loved ones.
Best wishes for Grand 2013!
P.S. I loved Tim’s mason jar idea!
Sheila – Thank you for the gift of your reflection. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your time-honored Channukah traditions. And I’m in complete agreement about Tim’s wonderful mason jar idea! Happy New Year to you and yours – may it be filled with health and joy!
Laurie, I spent yesterday flying around my kitchen, spoons and mixer’s in my wake in an effort to recreate the perfect Christmas meal, Southern style. My Christmas memoriesa re much like yours, even to the microscope! The year I got my first set of oil paints stands out in my mind, they were letting me have something permanent. Like Barbara I grew up in a military household and some Christmases were spent with my father over seas, yet I don’t remember ever having anything less than a wonderful Christmas, my parents poured all their love into making sure we felt loved and secure. That’s what I’d like my children to take with them.
Sandi – I can well imagine how your heart must have swelled when you opened your gift to find a set of oil paints. I’ve had the honor to see some of your work so I know for certain that beginning set was put to darned good use – a foundation for what you create today.
What fabulous memories! I enjoyed reading all the traditions shared by your readers too. My children and I bake sugar cookies during the day Christmas Eve and decorate them before we go to Christmas Eve church service. Then we come home and play some Christmas music in the background while we have a little holiday spread of finger foods (mostly prepared by my husband) before we share our gifts. My kids are now 24 and 21 and still look forward to this little tradition each year. My son-in law has been roped in to the festivities. I don’t know how long we will get to continue the tradition at our home, but I feel confident that my children will establish their own little tradition with loved ones if we can’t all be together.
Becwillmylife – Oh, what a fun tradition! We had an almost-nine-year-old guest bake the sugar cookies after our holiday dinner this year, and then sprinkle them with red and green sugar. Her face-splitting grin throughout the process was a joy for the rest of us to see.
The mason jar filled with memories is a wonderful way to share. Taking it back even further, my grandma lived an amazing life and in the early stages of dementia her memories (short-term, first) were being stripped away. Before it advanced to the stage of taking long-term memories too, one of her daughter’s started gathering “memories” from her and brothers and sisters. I compiled the stories and photos in an ebook. So now even though my beloved grandma has moved on, generations to come will know her. http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Lifetime-as-Helen-Dantzer/dp/1469903997/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356625577&sr=8-1&keywords=helen+dantzer
CastleMuse – This is wonderful! For those readers who may not have followed the link you provided (thank you), here’s the book description on Amazon: Helen (Reitzel) Dantzer was born April 23, 1919 and her given name at birth was Olga Syrotiuk. An accomplished musician, choreographer and performer; in and around the surrounding area of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. Proud mother of seven children; Larry, Patricia, Mary, Virginia, Peter, Paul and Alex (Hugh.) Grandmother of eighteen children, great-grandmother of thirteen children and great-great-grandmother of four children. While her life has not been an easy one she maintained a sparkle in her eyes, an appreciation for the simple things, and undying love for family & friends—with nary any bitterness at what made up the structure of her life. Mind you, she wouldn’t hesitate to tell you what she thought either!
Great to hear that you had such a memorable Christmas Day Laurie! I’ve had a tough week with stomach nausea, acid reflux and bloating after meals. This has curtailed some of my blogging, though I did force myself to get out for a few holiday movies. My own memories do include some of my mother’s baking but wouldn’t you know it some annual movie showings of some of the venerated classics. Opening gifts under the tree usually occupied several hours in the morning as it did this year with our own kids.
Best wishes for the best year ever in 2013 my very good friends!
Sam – I’m so sorry to hear about your physical condition – it sounds downright miserable, and I hope you’re able to shake it soon! Len and I wish you and yours a healthy, joy-filled New Year 🙂
This year was a year of giving gifts to the little ones that were books, games, and crafts. The little ones were so happy with their gifts and being able to be with the whole family, which is rare, that they seemed to spend equal time with each adult, crafting, playing games, or asking to be read to. It was a quiet yet the most lovely day I can remember. To see the adults sitting around on the floor and the children moving between them knowing each adult wanted to spend time with them was amazing. Some of the adults do exchange gifts, some don’t. But the gifts were well thought out, such as the tickets to a college basketball game my son gave his father. He had arranged with me to drive him down bribing that I could then spend time with his wife and daughter while they were at the game. The gift of experiences is the best gift we can give any one, imo.
LivingSimplyFree – Your celebration sounds like it was tailor made with a perfect fit for everyone involved. And the basketball ticket gift is going to serve as a wonderful memory maker for many people.
It was perfect! My son tried once before to attend a game with his father. He bought tickets to attend a Pittsburgh Steeler game in December. It was one of the coldest days on record, they froze then took hours longer than expected to drive home on icy roads. My son swore he would never do another outdoor event in this area, hence the basketball tickets this time 🙂
LivingSimplyFree – In light of the wicked weather experience, I can fully appreciate the indoor basketball choice. A wise man your son is. A very wise man 🙂
Laurie, we must have grown up in the same generation as your memories are very familiar, especially when you mentioned the Yardley lipstick!! LOL!!
Kris – Isn’t it funny how a simple statement — Yardley frosted lipstick — can trigger fond memories?! I’m glad you visited and left a comment, thank you.
I agree that making memories is the best part of Christmas–though there is something to be said for orange fishnet stockings. I wanted them too when I was a kid. 🙂
Sheryl – Oh my gosh, I thought I was the coolest thing on the planet with those fishnet stockings. In hindsight I’m sure I looked absolutely outrageous!
Oh, Laurie, I completely agree. It’s not the “things”. It’s the people. In fact all the holidays memories I made this year revolve around the special connections I’ve made with people–friends and family. Hugs from friends around the Mayne Island “communal” Christmas tree. Sailing from one nest of supportive family to the another nest on the wings of BC Ferries. And phoning “home” to Manitoba and having my family laugh when I told them it was snowing on Mayne Island. It’s a glorious time of year to count our blessings.
Leanne – You hit the nail squarely on the head in that it’s the people in our lives. Whether we’re reaching across the dinner table, or across the globe via phone, Skype, or FaceTime, it’s the people — friends and family — who we connect with that matter.
I hope your Christmas was wonderful, spent with friends near and far. I was intrigued that many of your favorite memories mirrored many of my own. I have wonderful memories of my grandmother and baking, including popcorn balls. My favorite, though, is remembering making shortbread with the recipe her mother brought over from Scotland. You clearly made me laugh, though, remembering frosted Yardley lipstick! I hadn’t thought about that in years and years! I really enjoyed hearing such lovely memories and now would like to wish you a peaceful and healthy new year, too! 🙂
Three Well Beings – Thank you for the gift of your reflection here today. You made my mouth water when you wrote about your grandmother baking shortbread with a recipe from Scotland.
A few years ago my husband, son, and I walked across the Highlands of Scotland – from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean – we followed the Caledonian Canal the entire way. People offered us shortbread everywhere we went – it became a delicious staple for us.
Such a brilliant message!
Subhabrata Dasgupta – I’m glad this post resonated with you, thank you for letting me know 🙂
Wonderful Christmas memories, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones.
This year we have had a lot of BBQ’s, with friends and family (it is summer here) we have had a picnic on the beach with friends and family, it has been a great Christmas.
Magsx2 – Logically I know that it’s summer on the other side of the globe, but it’s really difficult to wrap my head around summertime Christmas with outdoor barbecuing 🙂 Happy holidays to you and yours, and may your New Year be filled with health and joy.
All the lovely things you wrote about were overshadowed by the picture of the “wearing black olives.” In our family of 13 cousins, I was the youngest of 5 girls, and the only one addicted to black olives. (My older girl cousins loved green olives.) They gave me their allotment of black olives IF I would wear them on my fingers–of course I did! Now, many decades later, the tradition continues when we get together, but now it’s our grandchildren wiggling their black-olive fingers !
Marilyn – Thank you for the gift of your reflection. I’m so glad this post resonated with you 🙂
Wow, Laurie, I just noticed how your hits are soaring! You are really doing wonderfully here on your blog. There are not that many people who can post once a week and do as well as you. So proud of you! Pre New Years eve hugs and well wishes for a prosperous year in 2013!
Kathy – hugs, Hugs, HUGS to you as well. And thank you for noticing the numbers (when I hit the big milestone on Christmas, we celebrated with champagne)…
Man, you should have! 🙂 I adore you. And I am happy for your success, truly, truly. Happy New Year’s Eve!
Kathy – May blessings of health and joy rain down on YOU and YOURS!
Love it! Especially the part about the olives, very cute. I definitely agree that memories are more special than the tangible gifts we exchange. Of all the presents I’ve received on Christmas, only a few remain. However, I have memories upon memories that have persisted from my childhood! At the same time, some presents create memories (my first TV was a “scream at the top of your lungs” moment). Hope you had a terrific Christmas and New Year!
George – I can just picture your “scream at the top of your lungs” moment 🙂
I do remember how badly I wanted some fish net stockings, too! 🙂 This year we traveled so we could see and spend time with everyone we wished had the time or resources to come home… It was fun and memorable seeing what new traditions our kids are creating in their new lives.