For years I took my grandson Evan to Ocean City, NJ, every summer. I offered to let him off the hook when he turned 14, but he reminded me that “it’s our tradition,” so off we went. I saw a sign at a coffee shop on the boardwalk one morning that said, “Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realize they were the big things.” It’s the kind of sentiment that’s posted on Facebook every day, and yeah, it sounds like a cliché, but it also rings truer for me now that I’m older and wiser.
Each of us has had our share of sorrow. Losing both of my parents in the same year was a blow. So was driving past my childhood home recently and discovering that it had been torn down to make way for a Rite Aid parking lot. Talk about paving paradise. It felt like someone had bulldozed every memory I’d ever made there into a hole along with brick and mortar. So I started going through old photographs—my father coaxing a belly laugh out of his first grandchild on Easter morning, me at four in front of an enormous Christmas tree with my brother and cousins in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Two of those cousins are gone now, which makes that photo all the more poignant. I came across other photos that triggered memories of happier times, and that’s when I realized that our memories do not reside within four walls but are as much a part of us as our DNA.
This holiday season, why not try an exercise in gratitude? Take a trip down memory lane and be grateful all over again for the things that have brought you the most joy—your first kiss, the birth of your first child, the shelter animal, who changed your life. Chances are, none of them maxed out your credit card.
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