Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Matters Most

I absolutely love the holiday season. The changing seasons, the chill in the air, the scents of pumpkin and holiday spices, the feeling of gratitude and helping others in need...I love everything about this season-from October until January.

Now that Halloween and October birthdays are over, I decided to get focused on Christmas! I know...can't the turkey have his holiday? ;) I really want to get my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving so that I can sit back and truly enjoy all the holiday traditions and festivities that the season brings. I don't want to have to think about shopping after November! Yesterday, while my kids were at school and my youngest was at his preschool group, I decided to tackle some Christmas shopping. I love Christmas presents, and not for materialistic reasons. I really enjoy finding that "perfect" gift for the people I love. I love seeing their faces when they open up their gifts that I've carefully selected that I know they'll love. I love gifts because I love giving.

While driving to my shopping destinations yesterday, I was alone in my thoughts. It's a rare occasion that I drive anywhere alone; those quiet moments always cause me to pause and reflect. My thoughts quickly turned to my mom. Last year, we had a pretty good feeling that it was our last Christmas with mom knowing what the holiday was. Given that she hasn't been remembering any of our birthdays over the past few months, I am doubtful that she will have any clue about what the upcoming holidays represent. I was remembering the beautiful quilt I made her last year and how excited I was to give it to her. I was very proud of that perfect gift I had created for her. And then my thoughts turned to a day, not too long ago, when I was at mom's house. She was sitting on her bed in her usual silence, arms folded across her stomach. I tried to strike up a conversation with her and reached for the blanket that was folded up on dad's side of the bed. I spread the quilt across the two of us and pointed to some pictures of her grandkids.

"Remember this blanket I made for you last Christmas? Who are these people on here, mom. Do you remember?" I asked, pointing at the square with my son's face printed on.

Mom wouldn't meet my eyes nor would she look at the blanket. She seemed agitated that I was bothering her with incessant chatter.

"No, that goes there," she finally responded, grabbing the quilt from me and tossing it back to my dad's side of the bed.

As I reflected on this, driving in my car on my way to pick out those perfect gifts, I thought about all of the perfect gifts I have selected for my mom over the years. Though they were meaningful in the moment, they mean nothing to her now. They hold no value or significance to mom any longer. All of the material things that she owns in life- every gift she's received and everything she has worked so hard to buy for herself- no longer holds meaning for her (save it be her blow dryer, make up, and a few other daily objects that she uses). What makes it even harder is that not only do the "things" we've gotten her no longer matter, but even the memories of them are fading; the memory of why each of her belongings are significant.

As this realization hit me, my perspective changed just a little. I spend so much time thinking about getting the perfect gift and giving people "things" that will make them happy. At the end of the day, is that what really matters? I'm not saying that it's not important to me; I still love giving personal gifts to my loved ones and seeing that look of happiness when they open their gift. But thinking about my mom was a reminder to me to focus on what matters most: spending time and making memories with the people I love. I am excited to get those special gifts and by Thanksgiving, I'd like to have them all wrapped and ready to place under the Christmas tree so that I can devote the rest of my energy on making the season special for those around me. We can't take our material things with us when we die. My mom has already reached the point where those material things don't matter. Unfortunately even her memories are leaving her. But I believe that one day, all of those memories will be restored. Traditions, time spent with loved one, lifting those up around us, making memories...that is what matters the most!

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