I’m caught somewhere between my 92 year old mother and my 29 year old daughter. My mother is sentimental and saves things. This really hit me when I helped her put up her Christmas tree this year and the “topper” as she calls it was in a box labeled “1953.” This was the year my mother and father were married and that would make the “topper” 63 years old.
A week or so later I was talking to my daughter on the phone and she said she got rid of all her old Christmas tree decorations and purchased all new ones this year. That pretty much answered the question as to whether or not she would like to have some of the ornaments I hung on the tree when she was a child. The response is always the same, “no thanks mom, I’m good.” I understand her thought; she loves the memories but just doesn’t want the clutter.
I used to be like my mother and found it heartwarming to save and cherish the ornaments I collected through the years. Each one seemed to have a little memory of some sort attached to it. Each year as I would hang ornaments on the tree I would travel down memory lane. It was sweet.
As we all know life can turn on a dime. It did just that for me a few years ago. I found myself remarried in my mid-fifties to an amazing man who my children and son-in-law, who I count as a son, adopted as their own and who shares two beautiful grandchildren with me. They adore him. So for the past couple of years what used to be a wonderful tradition of hanging ornaments while traveling down memory lane turned into a sour task. Hanging ornaments that held so many memories became a torture of sorts.
I have shifted from my mothers’ frame of mind of saving and cherishing things to my daughters’ frame of mind of hold and release. Both have their benefits but in the end I have come to realize that my daughter is one smart cookie. It saddens me to watch my 92-year-old mother agonize over whom she wants to give her cherished possessions before she passes away. It gives her a sense of peace to know where her things are going but at the same time she is so sad and realizes that years of saving physical things doesn’t really matter in the end.
As I have released “things” in my life I have felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. So this is the year I left all my ornaments each wrapped in tissue in their boxes. I bought a pack of green, red and gold bulbs, made some paper chains, bought a string of white lights and started fresh. And, I fell free.
I thank my mother for instilling in me the thought that memories should be cherished and loved. And, I thank my daughter for teaching me that we can hold things loosely and make good loving memories without the “things.”
I guess the lesson for me is to love your things, cherish the memories they hold for you but let them go, move forward and realize it’s the people you love and the people that love you that really matter.