Memories can help us relive precious moments

Memories can help us relive precious moments

My father used to say that the beautiful thing about memories is that you can enjoy experiences again and again and again.

“I was just sitting here thrilling,” one of his parishioners told him during a visit in her home, adorned with antiques and mementos of the past.

“Excuse me, you were doing what?” he asked her.

“Just sitting here thrilling,” she repeated, and then explained by showing him her tattered folder of an ocean cruise that she had taken decades ago.

Memories are wonderful, but fickle, I’ve discovered. Bad memories can haunt, sometimes re-traumatizing us. And good memories can hurt even while warming us with past joys.

Christmas and New Year’s kick up many memories. These two days are markers, standing like tall towers above the skyline of all the days and experiences that preceded them.

My mind wanders back to my childhood. Thanksgiving was hardly “turkey-ed” away, as Dad used to say, before the three of us were scampering up the attic stairs, pulling out all the Christmas trappings.

Then came the big day for trimming the tree. Furniture was rearranged or moved out for the season. The fireplace was loaded up with logs that later filled the room with warmth and brilliance. With Christmas music playing, Dad would drag the tree into the front hall, trunk first. We helped carry it, we thought; but mostly we got in the way.

Mom would organize the ornaments by child. Dad would test and string the lights. His work complete, he would get a cup of coffee and sit back in his favorite wingback chair and watch our ritual of placing favorite ornaments in special places. Mom would garnish with garland and icicles.

Ah, those memories! So fickle – fickle as a fumbled football, as Dad used to say. Past joys stir deeply in an empty spot down inside, churning warmness but also sadness over what was and can never be again.

Memories, so precious and powerful. We may not be able to recreate the past, but if we “sit there thrilling,” perhaps those same memories can inspire us to be grateful for what we’ve had and excited about what is yet to come.

My tree is decorated. Christmas music is playing. The fireplace is ready to warm the room when my granddaughter, Blakely Faye, comes to visit.

What childhood memories will I help her create? I hope to be “thrilling” about them next year.

May your memories be merry and bright – and inspiring!

This column was co-authored and edited by Rebecca Faye Smith Galli, daughter of the late Dr. R.F. Smith Jr., a longtime columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Becky is a freelance writer, columnist, and soon-to-be author of “Rethinking Possible-A Memoir of Resilience.” [email protected] Twitter @Chairwriter

First published 12/182/16 Herald-Dispatch