he holiday lights twinkled in the Glencairn, home to three fingers of my favorite pour of bourbon. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the shopping, wrapping, decorating, traveling, and just plain running around, it’s nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy a sip or two in some quiet, alone time. But as happens, when a glass of bourbon is positioned in front of a man with nothing to occupy him except his thoughts, there tends to be some reflection involved. And because of the time of year, Holiday memories seemed to be front and center. Not a Christmas past, present, and future episode, mind you, but certainly a chronological recap of sorts, along with visions and perhaps a peek into the future.
As I raised the glass, slowly tilting it in anticipation of that first, glorious sip teasing my senses, the Holiday memory slideshow began on autorun. I don’t know what triggered it, but if I had to guess, I would say it was one of the many unique ornaments on our tree, likely purchased with a particular purpose, at a specific time, that caught my peripheral vision and set the memory train in motion.
There were visions of fully decorated trees in the background, surrounded by a landscape of gifts wrapped in brightly colored paper, reflecting the fact that this household was once again listed on the “Nice” section of Santa’s ledger. The kids were small, toddlers, in fact, running around Christmas morning in their onesie pj’s, eyes sparkling with holiday magic, tearing and tossing wrapping paper around the room in the same way that devil dusters pick up debris in parking lots and fields and twirl them around in little twister-like circles. A smile comes across my face at that vision. I enjoyed seeing a pure joy, innocence, and excitement of that time. Among the countless toy runs and crack-of-dawn shopping adventures for that one special, hot toy of the year, it was all worth it for that special Christmas morning moment.
Bending my elbow upward while curling my wrist, I welcomed another sip of bourbon, this one was a little bigger. The familiar spice and slow burn in the back of my throat are noted. It broke my concentration just long enough for the years to move forward, featuring tables spread with a bounty of food.
A constant in Christmas and Holiday celebrations, everyone’s favorites traditionally show up on the menu. The brunches are spectacular, and make it difficult to save any room for a more intimate, yet family oriented dinner. But it’s during this type of reminiscing, that as I have repeatedly found out, our minds have no filtering mechanism. If you’re going all in on your reminiscing, traveling down that memory lane can unexpectedly bring up those less than storybook holiday memories as well. We’re reminded of loved ones that used to sit at and hold one of those place settings at the family get-togethers. Those days and the traditions that accompanied them can never be experienced the same way. They are now only memories that live on through our thoughts and stories, hopefully, to be passed down for future generations, so they get the tiniest bit of insight into what shaped our families. We miss them; we mourn them, and yet, we must move on with current traditions in their honor.
After that detour, I quickly tipped the glass, filling my mouth with the silky tingle and warmth of the rest of the bourbon. My mind gratefully shifted again, to the present. I feel truly grateful for the people that are currently in my life. Family and friends are the original, and best support system. And as Christmas approaches and we all take a respite from our daily goings on, it’s a wonderful time to catch up, reminisce, and look forward to the excitement and challenges that are on the horizon. Whether it’s a year of anticipated family additions, a new career or personal adventures, or simply a year full of renewed hopes and dreams, the here and now moments are what’s important. Looking around that Christmas table and seeing that those little gift wrap destroying, fun-loving toddlers have grown into the most amazing, caring adults that make it a point to sit and share their Holidays with us gives me the same pleasure as when, as toddlers, they fought to stay awake, slept on the floor in front of the tree, and were so excited that they couldn’t wait for the big guy in the red suit to fulfill their wildest wishes.
It’s been said that as we get older, we realize that what we want and care about in life can’t be purchased and wrapped as a gift. I only need to look around, see who I’m surrounded by and realize that their happiness and health are on my wish list, not only at Christmas but every day of the year.
With this final and most important reflection, I reached over, the smile returning to my face, and poured another glass of this magical brown water. After walking myself through the memories of past Holidays, I find that after all these years, seeing the happiness and magical expressions of Christmas in those around me is the best gift of all.
Here’s hoping you find the time to give yourself a pour of your favorite whiskey, and be able to reflect on all that is magical around you.