As Christmas comes to a close and the end of another year looms near, for me, it is a time for honouring family and quiet retrospect. Long developed traditions take centre stage and new ones worm their way into the celebration agenda. The holidays are also the perfect occasion for reminiscing and storytelling, with no story being more powerful than the one that graces the pages of your own storybook.
This article is less about simplicity and more about loving who you are and cherishing from where you came. Many of us (me included) spend time searching for more – a better home, a better job, a better partner, a better life. Rarely do we stop and reconnect with all that is already around us. We spend so much time looking to create the future that we forget to pay tribute to the past and learn from the present –to live in the simplicity of the moment. Embracing your story can bring heartache and turmoil but it also gifts you with the joy of celebrating the person you have become. It was only recently that I started to understand and appreciate my own life anecdotes. I am a person of Scottish/Irish decent, however adoption on my maternal side has put a bit of a kink in fully appreciating my longitudinal familial procession. My mom was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and only lately (and admittedly under my insistence) started to grasp her Newfie heritage. While she didn’t reside in Newfoundland long her blood contains the spoils of living by the sea. My aunt and uncle still live near St. John’s and will often regal me with stories of life on the Rock. During her Christmas phone call, my aunt mentioned she had missed the Mummers coming to the nursing home where she lives. (For those of you who don’t know what Mummers are, they are the Newfoundland equivalent of carol singers and trick or treaters mixed together). After my aunt finished her explanation of a “typical” Newfoundland Christmas, I had one of those heart-warming moments when I realized how much I love my story. A simple conversation turned into discussion of traditions from the other side of the country – one that makes my story unique in many respects.
After this phone call, I participated in my annual Christmas Day tradition of watching the Queen’s Christmas message before going to bed. Not long into Her Majesty’s touching speech I noticed a little gold box sitting on the table beside her. In delight filled awe I realized that I had the same box sitting in a cupboard in my basement. The box, given out to soldiers on Christmas Day 1914, was graciously received by my adopted grandfather. A gift from Princess Mary, (the daughter of King George V and Queen Mary) the box contained cigarettes and was intended as a token of thanksgiving during the Christmas Day truce of the First World War. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it was for me to realize, in that very moment, I shared a knick knack with the Queen of England. Pretty. Darn. Cool. You see, I’ve had a distant connection with the British Royal Family since the day I was born. My mom was born on November 20, 1947, the day when the then Princess Elizabeth married the now Prince Philip. In honour of this celebration (both my mom’s birth and the wedding of a future monarch) my mom was subsequently named after the Queen – Elizabeth. Growing up, following the ups and downs of the Royal Family was paramount in my household as if my family was the extended family of the Royals. I vividly remember every Royal wedding, funeral, or other pomp and circumstance filled tradition – each celebrated by members of my family as we gathered around the television to watch in pure delight.
Of course, these are just small snippets of my story but the most recent ones I cherish. It has only been in the last couple of years that I realized the empowering potential my story holds. Each of us has our own unique story to tell, some heartbreaking others beyond admiration, but each exclusive to our own book of life. If you aren’t a fan of your story, have faith that it’s never too late to change the narrative and write a new chapter. And if you think that your story isn’t important or of consequence, I leave you with this thought: there are seven billion people inhabiting this planet, therefore there are 7 billion DIFFERENT stories to be told – no one can or will be the same. Shared experiences give way to differing feelings and views. Individual stories cannot be repeated or duplicated in their minute detail – ever.
As we bid 2014 farewell, stop and take in all that is already around you and within you – simple or not simple, it’s your story to tell. Do so loudly and proudly.