As I was cleaning up today after our wonderful Christmas dinner, I marveled at the change in perspective one gains through the years, and I realized that I finally understood one particular memory from days gone by: that of my Grandmother, a gentle smile on her face, quietly contemplating all the activity (read: chaos) of our family gatherings. These were the later years of her Grandmothering, when she was blessed at the time with 6 great-grandsons, and due to ability and age, held court as the Matriarch while her daughters and granddaughters prepared the meal. She contributed frequently to each conversation and dished out lots of advice, but mostly she observed, as if she were memorizing the details of each moment, her very own personal home movie that she could replay over and over all through the year. Actually, it was more like she was SAVORING each moment as we would savor the delicious turkey and dressing or pecan pie. These moments were her spiritual nourishment, the assurance that her family would thrive once she was gone from this earth.
This memory prompted me to really try to understand this transformation. As children, we are filled with excitement at the prospect of gifts received and the fun and activity of the season. When we become parents, we are focused on creating the magic and passing on the traditions. When the traditions are passed and the pressures of early parenthood are eased a bit, we may then savor. We have gained the wisdom of knowing that circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, and that a lot can happen in one year’s, or even one day’s time. My Grandmother perhaps learned to savor way before her time: when she was four, her father, a very healthy young man, perished in the Swine Flu epidemic in 1918. As a young wife, she lost her first two children…one only a few days’ old, the other just over a month old. Once she had her surviving children, I expect she savored the early-parenthood days in a way I never could, simply because of all she had lost.
And so now I know. I know that today, in fact every day, is meant to be savored. Our family dynamic will change this year. Our oldest will start his post-college career, our youngest will graduate high school and join the Navy. Our Christmases will never be the same. In fact, they have never been that way, it’s just that I have learned to savor, to hang onto each moment. As the saying goes, ‘Enjoy the little things in life….one day you will look back and realize they were the BIG things.’