It’s All About the Little Things

Which parent hasn’t searched the world over and then paid through the nose for the elusive toy that darling Jimmy whispered into Santa’s ear was the “one” special present he wanted this year?  (I confess, for me, it was a hard-to-get Lego kit that I ended up ordering online and paying almost as much in Federal Express fees to have it show up in time for Santa’s sleigh!)  Was the surprise on my son’s face Christmas morning as he rushed down the stairs to see what Santa brought worth every penny and minute spent tracking that toy down?  Of course.  I am not suggesting that joy cannot be found in gift-giving (and receiving), or that it is not part of the fabric of many of our holiday memories.

That Lego kit only seemed to be sold out near and far . . .
That Lego kit only seemed to be sold out near and far . . .

As our kids move past the magical Santa stage, though, if they tell us there is nothing they need or want, why are we so quick to ask insistently, “Are you sure there’s nothing you want for Christmas this year?”  Perhaps we should pay attention to those signals that suggest no “thing” is needed under the tree.

Christmas tree

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” ~ Albert Einstein

Looking back, the experiences of life are what make the memories, not the “things” we collect along the way.  When recalling a family trip, my sons do not say, “Oh, and remember the cool souvenirs we bought?”  Wait, I take that back when it comes to our road trip to Yellowstone – I had to reverse course and return to a “shop” that was in someone’s garage, marked by the pile of antlers and other bones in the front yard.  The “Jackalope” my son painstakingly selected, searching for just the right character in the little antlers jutting from the taxidermy creation, is still proudly hanging on his bedroom wall – but it is part of the memory of our travels through Wyoming that week.  The memories of the rustic, western landscape were reinforced by wandering through a boys’ paradise of fossils, skulls, and fur pelts.  Rather than the “thing” it was the experience of it that made the memory.

Mystic Lady ~ Wyoming
The Mystic Lady shop in Wyoming

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Robert Brault

During our memory-making family trip to Italy, what moment does one of my sons always recall when we talk about our day trip to Florence?  Seeing Michelangelo’s David?  No.  Climbing the steps to Giotto’s Tower?  No.  He always first recalls the moment when I lost the top of my gelato cone in the middle of a busy sidewalk, successfully saved it before it hit the ground, and ungracefully restored the scoop to the top of the cone as the gelato dripped down my arm and onto my purse . . . and one of the many “gypsies” chose to approach me at that moment, speaking Italian with hand extended asking for a contribution.  I replied somewhat sharply, “Go away!” — as I simultaneously wiped up the gelato drippings before they coagulated into a sticky mess.  My son informed me that she promptly called me a “witch-with-a-B” in clearly-understood English as she walked away.  My husband and sons found the whole scene amusing, and apparently it became one of their favorite Florence memories.  I was just happy to not have good gelato go to waste!

Italian gelato
The good memories of Italian gelato

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

So, as we move through the often hectic holiday season, keep in mind that those little things hidden among the big events and traditions may be the real memory-makers down the road.  Take time to enjoy the little moments – playing a game of cards with your family, undistracted by phone, computer, or the never-ending task list; enjoying a leisurely chat with a friend over a glass of wine or hot chocolate;  heading out for a walk with someone you care about (and the dogs, of course!) on a crisp winter night even though you “don’t have time”; watching your favorite holiday movie for the umpteenth time and letting the tears flow even though you know the ending (can anyone say “It’s A Wonderful Life”?).   Remember, you can always clean tomorrow.

Ciao! ~ Kat

24 thoughts on “It’s All About the Little Things

  1. Brilliant post. There’s that danger of just enjoying Christmas for all of the presents, yet who needs presents when you can eat Christmas pudding whilst watching Home Alone for the third time this month! Keep it up 🙂

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  2. The antler and skull shop – sounds like a “must-see” on our next trip to Yellowstone 🙂 Who doesn’t want a jackelope under the tree for Christmas?! Awesome post – I so enjoy your blog.

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    1. So glad you are enjoying my verbal wanderings, Vickery — I am having fun with it! I think the jackalope shope was near Cody on the route to Devils Tower after our visit to Yellowstone! The eldest bought a jackalope with his souvenir money, and the youngest bought a fox skull! What every boy’s room needs! ~ Kat

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  3. I think it’s cool to ‘be’ in the moment, and to be aware of your own presence in that moment, whatever it is that you may be doing. As I grow older, I appreciate that awareness more and more!
    Great post Kat:)

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    1. Munira, I agree with you that being more mindful is something that seems to increase in importance or at least our awareness of it does as we get older. It is not always easy to do as we juggle daily work, family, etc obligations. ~ Kat

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  4. Couldn’t agree more. A lot of times, the destination gets completely overshadowed by the experience. When I got lost in Paris, when I got rammed by a bull, when we were eating a culture food savagely with our hands, when we were waiting for our boat and someone was snoozing, … These moments become much more memorable.
    I ponder, people needn’t to go far to have unforgettable moments.

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  5. My son would just about do anything to visit the antler shop! Having said that, thanks for the reminder to drop the standards about around the house and just enjoy!

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