Not to be cynical, but we really can’t remake the past into reality. Those days are gone; sadly many people in our personal photograph of past holidays are also gone, and we’re left yearning for ways to relive at least some traditions for loved ones and ourselves. How sweet to gather around the table again celebrating families and friends and blessings from the past.
If we could revisit our yesterdays and were honest, we’d admit Grandma was not exactly the gourmet cook we once believed she was. We’d remember how noise from adults and children tended to have an adverse effect on Grandpa, and he’d be irritable before the evening celebration ended. And typically at least one well-intentioned relative would get on our nerves making it difficult to behave according to the firm instructions we were given before leaving home. Besides our preferences have changed through time and some details of those once cherished traditions may not be so appealing to us now. But memories reign supreme, and we remember believing those were some of the year’s finest days. Likely they were.
Memories remind us that much in life is a matter of perspective. We recall thinking we were always overweight, and then see a random photo from decades ago, and we’re amazed at our trim appearance. We looked then like we wish we looked now and wonder why we agonized over our weight so much. Or we have the opportunity to visit our grade school or high school, and the buildings we once thought were so huge and intimidating are rather modest in size. We see a picture of former grade school teachers, and we’re astounded at how young they look. We thought they were “old” when they were in our classrooms.
Many times I’ve looked at pictures of our family Christmas trees through the years, and am dismayed by how scrawny and misshapen they appear. I always felt they were beautiful, both ones from my childhood, and later when I was a parent. As we begin our celebrations of the holiday season, giving our attention first to Thanksgiving before hurrying on to the shopping frenzy, we might consider readjusting our priorities. Perfection is not possible so we’ll achieve more by lowering expectations and spending more energy on gratitude, generosity, hospitality and appreciation. And realize someday our now younger loved ones will fondly recall family celebrations, wishing they could revisit their yesterdays just as we wish the same.