“We don’t remember days, we remember moments.” - Cesare Pavese
And so we sit. The tree is still half filled with ornaments, the house is a mess. Boxes and opened presents freckle the floor, crossing over from room to room. The refrigerator is empty from days of celebration at the homes of friends and family. The gifts have been opened. The suspense of what they hold is over. So many feelings left, fatigue among the primary ones. Yet, there is so much build up, it feels as if there is a blank space for the aftermath of activity.
Yes, it’s over. Our holiday has come and gone. It can be hard to come down after a much anticipated event, such as a holiday, birthday or other special occasion. These are events that take days of preparation and bring much excitement, possibly even emotional turmoil, in preparation. They are often like an unwrapped present. There is a lot of glitz and glamour on the outside, expectations brimming to the top, and yet, it is only at the moment you open it, see the present, you realize that it has nothing to do with anything leading up to the actual event.
It’s all about the preparation.
How we prepare, how we plan for our occasions can have a huge impact on how we feel afterward. When we relish the moments of planning and anticipation, or equally take the time to assess our concerns and feelings over potential chaos, we are taking in life as it happens. We are feeling, we are accepting, we are living in the moment, and we are receiving our lessons – the good and the bad.
Our happiness is based on our perception of our life as we see it. That is our reality. We can forever focus on the once shiny package that is now a simple gray sweater. We can focus on what our (now adult) siblings or parents once did or said and the role we have always played with them. Or, we can take each moment as it presents itself to us, acknowledging our own growth, where we are today, and look for the good. Carry the good forward.
These moments don’t last forever.
The moments can’t last longer than the timeframe for which they are meant. Otherwise it wouldn’t be special. We wouldn’t get the rush we get. The overwhelming excitement that comes with the immediate rush of nostalgia that originates at the first scent or sight that triggers the memory of good feeling.
And for some, these momentous events are not the shiny packages of jubilation and gratitude. Not all families work together well, and these occasions are tight-lipped times of just getting through. And even still, we are left with the aftermath of these feelings. The comments Great Aunt Rose made that dug deep, yet didn’t mean to. Or even worse, the snide remark from Cousin Jack that meant to sting and actually did. Or memories past of those who are no longer here to share in the joy.
These times, too, are not meant to last forever. They are here for us to feel the feelings we are meant to feel.
Whether holidays and special occasions are a time of great joy, or a time of begrudging presence, they have one thing in common; the day passes and it’s over.
We can take away good from both situations. Our happy memories keep us up when life gets us down. And equally, we can be grateful for how far we have come, for who we are and the parts of us we have left behind. Either way, the more we can accept each moment as it comes, the more resentment and sadness we let go as we carry acceptance and gratitude forward, focusing on what gives us the most joy.