Christmas is next week. It snuck up on me this year, and I was a bit startled to realize it is already upon us. Mentally, we are so removed from the idea of acquiring things, seemingly the sole purpose for the holiday these days, that my focus has been far, far away from shopping malls and Christmas shopping. Oh, I still love the holiday for the festivity of it all, and spent much of the last weekend simply sitting and admiring our lovely tree, adorned in dozens of ornaments, all with a story. Every single ornament on that tree was picked up by us at some random point around the world, or given to us at our annual Christmas parties by dear friends.
I love Christmas music and seeing the brightly decorated boats sail by on the Willamette River. I love Christmas movies, and have already watched several of our yearly favorites, including A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, and a host of others. I will enjoy seeing friends this weekend with whom our visits are few and far between, a fact that doesn’t lesson the history we share.
I will particularly enjoy spending the night on Christmas Eve with Jim’s parents, giggling to ourselves as, after we head to bed, we can hear them bringing out the Christmas baskets to put under the tree. Even at our relatively advanced ages, they still want Christmas morning to be magical for “the kids”.
And yet. my mind focuses on reducing and minimalism. As Jim enjoyed a boys weekend with Ken last weekend, I cleaned out and painted one of the spare bedrooms in our house that we call the office. Not as though we’ve actually ever done any office type of work in that room but that is what two people do in a four bedroom house, isn’t it? We name our rooms as a reference point. We have a “guest bedroom”, we have an “office”, and we have, as my niece refers to it, a “random room”, where resides a pappasan chair, a hand painted umbrella from Thailand, and a couple of pictures on the wall. It is a perfect indication of a house too large for it’s inhabitants!
As I moved what felt like thousands of pounds of stuff from the office to the random room to prepare for painting, I realized that I had not even looked at the majority of the items in my hands for months, if not years. It reminded me of WHY I so enjoyed living in a smaller space, whether that be our last, smaller, home, or the backpacks out of which we lived for a year. It brought home how my happiness has little to nothing to do with the stuff surrounding me, other than those that hold cherished memories. Our home is full of items we enjoyed enough to purchase, carry on our backs, and drag or ship home from some foreign port. I can look at any single wall in our house and those memories come flooding back, of a particular place and time.
But what this project mainly brought home to me was this…. time moves too damn fast. Soon it will be five YEARS since we moved into this house. Five long years of dreaming to be on the road, and I must admit, not enjoying our lovely residence as much as it deserves to be enjoyed. This month brings the end to another year with the loss of my mom, who died on Christmas morning nine years ago. That fact brings me to my knees, not just at the loss itself, but at the passing of time. HOW can it possibly be nearly a decade since that fateful morning that changed so many things?
All of the feelings brought to the surface in the mere clearing out of a room pointed in one direction, and that is, that time passes quickly and living a live that is not your best is unacceptable. Living the life someone else planned for you. Living a life society deems acceptable. Living a life that is not your authentic life is an insult to those who no longer have any options.
My mom, Jim’s sister April, our friend’s daughter, our other friend’s daughter. All of the other lost souls who have left our lives and the lives of others around us. How dare we diminish the memory of those have no more days to live, to be less than the very best we can be? Don’t we owe it to everyone we have loved and lost to live each and every day to the fullest?
For the majority of us, we live a life of overwhelming abundance. Absolutely, everyone faces challenges and heartbreak, along with the highlight experiences of life. But moving into a brand new year, I know I’ll be focusing on being mindful. Mindful that every single day, even a pretty shitty one, is a miracle. Mindful that time passes whether I reach for my dream life or remain stagnant, a mouse on a wheel. Mindful of the loving memory of those who no longer have a choice.
Enjoy this holiday season for what it really means. A time to stop and focus on what is really important in life. Love, family, friends, sunsets and puppy dog kisses. Be the present this year by “being present” to those you care about. You will never regret the time well spent.