The holidays are the most special time of year. It’s the one time that can evoke ambivalent reams of happy memories that go along with some of the saddest moments we’ve experienced in life. Fun celebrations with family and friends coupled with the memories of those who are no longer with us. Add in a dash of the usual unfortunate moments, be it family squabbles or simple misfortune that occurs to us or those around us, and they all merge together into some half-full/half-empty combination of thoughts converging on one another on this most unique and precious occasion.
Though this can be unsettling, let me pass along some advice I was reminded of as I watched a recent rerun of one of my favorite sitcoms. In one very touching scene in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Ray gives a very eloquent toast at his brother Robert’s wedding as he fondly remembers his and (his wife) Debra’s special day. In the speech, he talks about the secret to what could essentially be applied to holiday events and gatherings as much as its real target being one’s wedding. This secret according to Ray is all in the “editing.” Those moments we choose to hang on to in our memories, while others, we just let fade slowly in the distance. An abridged portion of the speech goes as follows. “I remember my wedding day as the day I got to kiss the most beautiful girl in the world. I think she remembers it, at least I hope she does, as a good day. The start of a lot of good memories. We completely blotted out the part where Mom was hanging onto my pants yelling, ‘Don’t go! Don’t go!’ We didn’t save those pictures. Just the good ones. Just the good ones. Here’s to my brother, Robert, and my new sister, Amy. You’ll keep the good ones.”
In this digital age, we all have lots of pictures on our smartphones, and because it’s digital, we often neglect to delete the bad ones we take. Choosing instead, to let them build up over time and take up valuable space for future good pictures. Perhaps the same can be said for some of our personal memories at this time of year. We hang on to some that we know we should let go of and others that we could learn from and move forward, leaving those times behind much like faded photographs in an old scrapbook that we don’t look at any longer.
“Some memories never leave your bones, like salt in the sea; they become part of you, and you carry them.” (Quote from TheMindsJournal.com.) As Ray so wisely proclaims, it’s all in the editing. The act of creating new memories that we can cherish for the rest of our lives and letting go of those entanglements that merely dampen our spirit or lessen our joy in this season. Knowing all families have this in one form or another, we can alter the future of how those moments will be recalled by using this very simple technique, editing. Good editing leads to stronger bonds, more cooperation, greater empathy and understanding, and the removal of moments of conflicting perspectives, opinions or beliefs.
Say what you will, but life is all about good editing. Seniors are well aware of the power of this tool in recalling their most successful times in life, and even those challenging ones, as it’s skillfully used to assemble only the pieces of the story that display us in our best light. Some are better at this than others. Regardless, we all do this to some degree, in one way or another. As Mark Twain once said, “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not; but I am getting old, and soon I shall remember only the latter.”
Those particularly adept at this technique can adjust in real-time their actions during these special occasions in their lives. In doing so, they may contribute a greater sense of happiness, well-being, generosity and sincere courtesy in these moments, fittingly making them some of the best they will ever remember.
Who would have thought that some of the sagest advice for this time of year would come from the main character in a comedy sitcom? Then again, he was a writer.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our readers. In the New Year, let us remember the immortal words of Anne Frank, “What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.
And now, for my musical selection of the month, enjoy – Celtic Woman performs Auld Lang Syne from “Home for Christmas” (Live At The Helix In Dublin, Ireland/2013)
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