Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Memories. Choose your hues.

The holidays are a most … interesting time, when it comes to family dynamics.  Typically, this season is filled with hope, wonder and magic – which, for me, means: “I hope nobody argues at the dinner table and I wonder if we’ll make it through the evening peacefully.  Boy, if we do, that will be some fancy magic.”  Sometimes, the turkey carcass isn’t the only carnage left behind at a holiday meal.

 

Growing up, I always wondered if other families went through similar holiday madness, hoping that it would be different when I grew up and wondering what magical concoction of the perfect food and sparkling guest list it would take to achieve that fantasy.  I’m now peeking over the bedsheets at half-a-century and I still don’t have answers.  Questioning others, I don’t believe anybody does.  Wherever two or more of you are gathered, chances are there will be those in the mix who make things … interesting.

 

As a collector of stories, I have heard so many about holiday meals ranging from the beautifully touching to the touched-by-the-crazy-stick type.  Yet, we’re bombarded with movies, music and media images that somehow make us believe that other people are living these incredible Pottery Barn/Ralph Lauren lives where nobody spills the gravy, the beans or their basket while wrapped in the bosom of their loved ones during the holidays.  Today, I stand on my tiny soapbox to say to all, “Ha!” – edited slightly, as you can’t fully appreciate the uproarious, milk-in-the-nose laughter here on the page.

 

One of the wonderful things about the memories we do collect through the holiday season is their elasticity.  You can gather a room full of people who grew up together and question them about their childhoods and everyone will remember theirs differently.  For example, I have a friend who grew up in the same household with her three siblings and to hear their individual stories, you would think they never lived together and could not have possibly shared the same set of parents (yet they did).  Their lives were colored by their own emotions, intellect and perception – like an Andy Warhol print of the same image repeated, but each panel a different color.

 

Spending my Thanksgiving this year with a party comprised of mostly octogenarians, I found it fascinating that their recollections of holidays past were filled with amber-tinted imagery of the Good Olde Days.  Not ashamed of my age, I’ll admit that I’m old enough to have been present at a handful of the events remembered and don’t have nearly the same images in my head that they do.  But, with advanced age comes increased wisdom and I’m smart enough to keep my trap shut and realize that someday I will probably soften the edges around my memories, too.

 

Even this year, our holiday dinner was immediately colored by those in attendance, despite drawing from the same paintbox of experience.  Nine of us were gathered around the table and each one of us came away with a completely distinctive view of the evening.  I can tell you that one was bored to tears, but loved the meal.  Another was engaged by the company, but didn’t care for what was on their plate one bit.  Yet another was charmed and delighted by it all, the company, the surroundings, the food and the mood.  One left with a full stomach, but an empty heart from unexpected hurt feelings and disappointment.  The other five, I’m sure, would admit that their own emotional cornucopias were overflowing, but their stories remain untold, until later, once they’ve had a chance to choose their memory hues.

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