I was rummaging through the garage the other day looking for some Christmas decorations when I stumbled upon a long forgotten box of story notes, scripts and sketch books, primarily belonging to my husband, who is also a writer, Bob Rector. You might have read some of his WordPress blogs ~ he’s RectorWriter. Anyway, I picked up a sketch book and a priceless piece of paper fell out. It was written by Bob in 1993 and stars the indomitable Zack, our dachshund from years ago, who I’ve often written about.
Reading Bob’s brief account of our household twenty-one years ago was like time-traveling for me. He gave a crystal-clear description of each person caught in an instant of time and I was moved to happy tears by the memory. I would like to share it with you here, just as I read it, in Bob’s handwriting, in Bob’s words and complete with an hysterical sketch of Zack’s face.
The thing that caught me off guard was the date, June 5, 1993, because as I read it I could have sworn this took place at Christmas. There was no mention of Christmas, but it just felt like it: warm, joyful, loving and deeply personal. I could almost hear wood crackling in the fireplace and see the reflections of lights and decorations in the window. And I wondered why this brief chronicle of our lives would automatically make me think of Christmas. And I decided it’s because every good, beautiful memory is like a gift, a Christmas gift that can be opened over and over again.
Now there are many writers, philosophers and psychologists who say that we should leave our past behind us. Some great thinkers tell us that if we hold on to our past, we are doomed to have old baggage drag us down, and negative triggers continue to plague us with repeating unhealthy habits. According to them, we should practice present moment awareness.
I beg to differ. I believe that who I am is a conglomeration of a bunch of present moment awareness events: memories, good and bad. Yes, we all have things we’d like to forget, painful recollections that make us wince when we’re reminded of them. Wince or worse. But for me, those are a part of who I am too, I just don’t want to dwell on those. I want to focus on what went right in my life, those moments that stay with me forever because they are so vibrant that they have imprinted me in every way that’s lovely.
I can still see, smell, taste and feel those precious bits of time as if they were literally yesterday. I’m sure you have those too.
As for me, I’ll go with a pretty solid thinker by the name of Dostoevsky. You see, next to the page with Bob’s story of our household was another piece of paper with this quote printed on it:
“You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all. If a man carries many such memories into life with him, he is saved for the rest of his days. And even if only one good memory is left in our hearts, it may also be the instrument of our salvation one day.”
“The instrument of our salvation.” A powerful statement.
What a wonderful gift I received when I opened that box from the past. When Bob wrote it so long ago, he had no idea it would mean so much to me to find it decades later. It made me wonder what I am doing today that will set up good memories for those I love in the days and years to come. For me, that’s where the importance of living in the moment comes in, the significance of every single day. We never know when we might do some kind gesture for someone that might be their “instrument of salvation” at a dark moment.
So Merry Christmas to you. May you find the gift of cherished memories tucked under your own little Christmas tree inside yourself. It is my hope that the coming days bring you opportunities for more exceptional memories to be created. But if for some reason this Christmas isn’t full of all that’s positive and encouraging for you, don’t forget the treasures that are with you still, inside your heart and mind. After all, Christmas is for memories.
Until next time.
Marsha Roberts, Author: Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant