Sunday, December 2, 2007

What if Christmas was about Scenes not Stuff?

The other day, a colleague was reciting for me all the gifts he had bought for his wife. As he was listing such things as sweaters and jackets, rings and earrings, remote car starters and the like, the thought entered my mind that when I am old, I do believe my mind will be more apt to dwell on and recall the moments rather than the things.

Stuff wears out, breaks, goes out of style, but expressions of love never fade. I thought about it a moment. Could I remember all the Christmas gifts my husband and I shared in our past? A few perhaps…but what comes to mind more easily are scenes shared in our past.

I remember a decade ago when we were part of a team running a 24-hour relay race. I was heading out for my lap at 3:00 am. “Do you want me to come with you?” my husband asked. I shook my head. I wouldn’t admit I was a little nervous about running the trail alone. He respected my need to do it on my own. I didn’t know until later he watched from a distance, just to make sure I was safe.

I remember watching a singer on TV. I sighed, “I wish I had a voice like that.” (Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sing a note.) He turned and looked at me. “Your voice is how you put words on the page.”

I remember oh-so-many times, while lying in bed at night, that we howled like idiots over some ridiculous thing like ‘old people noises’; laughing uncontrollably until we wiped the tears away, then moments later, starting all over again.

I remember standing, side by side, on the top of the Tablelands in Newfoundland, both of us silent with awe.

I remember how carefully he chooses his words when I ask him his opinion on something I’m wearing that he doesn’t like. Or when he withholds his opinion on decisions he knows I have to make on my own. Or when he leaves me to walk alone on the trail, somehow knowing without words, that I need the space and quiet and solitude.

These are the things I remember. So this Christmas, we are opting out of the rat race of gift buying and going for the moment to remember. Weather permitting, we will get up early and go for a hike or a snowshoe, perhaps to the top of Shepody Mountain.

Just to see what Christmas looks like from there.


Diane said...

Deborah, you and your husband have your priorities _very_ straight! I commend you. In the past 3, or maybe it's 4, years my husband and I have opted for no gift exchanging though we do make a point of enjoying the season. A week or so ago, he asked if we should gift exchange or continue with no gifts -- neither of us was committal at the time. I've been dealing with a lot of grief because of losing my dear mother this year. After reading this, I now know the answer to his question. There will be no gifts -- at least none like your co-worker -- the gifts will be the memories of special moments. Thank you.

Diane, Sand to Glass
& Dogs Naturally

Deborah Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah Carr said...

Thank you, Diane, for the heartfelt comment - A dear friend of mine lost her husband of 59 years last month. I spoke with her last night, and she told me about how she is finding solace by crafting a tribute to him. This act of love is allowing her to revisit the moments of their life together through old letters, notes and photographs. They were both people who shared their lives fully and beautifully with everyone they came in contact with. We talked at length about the most important gift of all - the gift of knowing him and having him in her life.