My most favorite Christmas tradition is the Christmas Tree. This year we put up our 27th Christmas Tree of our own (meaning not including our separate childhood trees). We make an afternoon out of going out and walking through the tree farm and finding the perfect tree, cutting it down, lugging it to the truck and bringing it home. This could be our last Christmas with both of our children (although one is 24!) here at home for this tradition. When we put the ornaments on the tree – with each ornament we are taking a walk down memory lane through our lives. We tell the stories that they bring to mind, we laugh and we cry. There are ornaments on this tree from each of our vacations, each of the places we’ve lived, our firsts (Christmas together, babies), ornaments that were gifts from family or friends, ornaments that I made when we hardly had any, ornaments that others made for us, ornaments with photos on them, of pets we’ve lost….literally the Christmas tree is holds the ornament journal of our life together. That is why the Christmas tree is my favorite Christmas tradition – once a year we all talk about the story of our life, think about those people who have come and gone in our lives, tell stories in itty bitty detail, pass those stories on and solidify them in our hearts.
When I was in graduate school I was lucky enough (though I don’t think I thought so at the time) to live with my grandparents for a year or so. Although there was a perfectly functioning washer and dryer in the basement, my grandmother used a wringer washer. If you don’t know what that is – google it! Then she would hang her clothes out to dry. If I were home, of course I would help her. At the time I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t just make her life easier by throwing the clothes in the washer and dryer. I would have to say that laundry is one of my LEAST favorite household chores, EXCEPT in the summer when I can hang the clothes out to dry. I do have a perfectly functioning dryer as did she, but…..when I take the time to hang the clothes out on the line, it becomes a meditation of sorts; almost like the relaxation that gardening brings when I pull weeds and daydream. When I hang the clothes out to dry, the sun warms me. When the clothes are dried by the sun and the breeze they smell and feel so wonderful. When I climb into bed on crisp sheets that have been hung out to dry and the summer breeze is blowing in the window, I don’t think there is another feeling quite like it. When I hang the clothes out to dry, laundry becomes less of a chore and more of an act of love that I am doing for my family and myself. When I hang the clothes out to dry, my grandmother is with me each time, even though she has been gone for over 20 years. She was doing laundry the “green” way before that idea was ever even discussed! Thank you Grandma, for teaching me the art of loving through chores and taking me back to a simpler time.
In honor of my trip to Australia, which was at the top of my “bucket list” and I crossed it off a year ago (by the way, it’s on there a few times, so I WILL be going back 🙂 – I will be posting some of my favorite photos of my trip. This one is of me and my lovely friend Diane in Sydney harbor.
I was thinking about where the term “bucket list” may have come from and I found this : “In 2004, the term was used—perhaps for the first time?—in the context of things to do before one kicks the bucket (a phrase in use since at least 1785) in the book Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, by Patrick M. Carlisle. That work includes the sentences, “So, anyway, a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesn’t want to go gently into that blacky black night. He wants to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, pry the lid off his bucket list!”.
Sometimes I think that we all just continue to put things on the list and sadly never get around to it because we think we have forever. I have lived the fast-paced career life and don’t regret giving my heart and soul to my patients, but I did hate the commute- what a waste of my time- and I also hated the politics of it all. The worst part of my day should always have been helping my patients deal with the bad things life handed to them, not the politics of healthcare. I have had all the “trappings”, and I don’t like to feel trapped. I am trying to choose a more balanced life. Do I only want to remember the work I’ve done in my life in the end? No, I want to remember the wonderful places I’ve been and the times I’ve played. They don’t have to be big things – just noticing the beauty in everyday moments is a wonderful start.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my patients. I saw a couple, and he had Alzheimer’s disease, he was just 65, knew 5 different languages, was a professor and was waiting to retire to use those languages and travel all around the world with his lovely wife. Now he lies in a bed and can’t speak. Hopefully, we do have time to cross things off of that list, but it seems to me that we need to make it happen more than most of us do. Procrastination is not a good thing, in any aspect of life. To be cliche’, Life is Short and we should embrace the moments while we have the time, and NOW is the only time we know that we have.