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Dust Off Those Holiday Memories

Story ID:1220
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Year:2002
Person:Nancy Julien Kopp
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Dust Off Those Holiday Memories

By Nancy Julien Kopp

Back to school, raking leaves, football games, the scent of apple pie in the oven--all signs of autumn. It's another bend in this road of seasons we travel. Just around another curve and beyond autumn are the holidays, so it's time for my annual exercise guaranteed to stir up a mixture of emotions. This exercise won't increase my muscle mass. Instead, it might cause a chuckle or a tear, great joy or even a bit of anger. Yet, I feel compelled to repeat it each year.

My first step is to sit down alone with a cup of coffee or hot tea. I might add a cookie or two. Next, I reach into my Memory Bank and sift and sort until I come to the Holiday section. Occasionally, I need to stretch a long way to find this particular file, for it's often buried deep in the valleys of my mind. Sometimes, a word, a sound or a scent will trigger a memory and bring it back in a rush, and other times I must delve deep into the cranial recesses to locate the memory.

It's time to lay my holiday memories on the table and look them over. It might take quite awhile, as I like to linger over some. Initially, I pass by the painful ones quickly, I'm not ready to face them quite so soon. Instead I rearrange them. I put the best ones first, and push those bad memories farther down. I'd like to swipe some of them right off the table, but I don't do that. They're mine, no matter how much they hurt. The darker memories are a part of me, whether I choose to remember them or not. Each memory, good or bad, is a fragment of what made me the person I am today. Within those bitter bits and pieces are keys to learning more about myself, so I force myself to check them out, too.

Not one of us has had a life that was all sweetness and light, but the dark times often take precedence in importance in our memories. Who among us could not relate at least one "Christmas From Hell" story or "The Thanksgiving Disaster" tale? Sad to say, but they usually make for more interesting stories than the one about the year everything was wonderful.

One year my Thanksgiving turkey was still raw in the middle when everything else sat on the table waiting. I was mortified, but I learned how much my relatives cared about my feelings. No one stormed in disgust. Instead, they made jokes and helped me set the cooked food aside while the turkey continued to do its thing in the oven. One Christmas my heart nearly broke as I walked the halls of the hospital where our firstborn lay dying. I learned that I had an inner strength I'd never needed before. Another Christmas I yelled at my father for the first and last time in my life. I learned that sometimes it's necessary to hurt someone you love if the reason is a good one.

As I look over the many memories, I find some good in all of them. I may not see the positive immediately, but if I veiw it from a different angle, if often becomes clear.

When I finish, I pick up each precious remembrance and slip it back into my Memory Bank. My holiday memories will stay there, patiently waiting until signs of autumn let me know it's time to bring them forth once again. I'll dust and review each of those holiday memories, but the good ones will come first each and every time.

Originally published at www.2theheart.com