One year, my husband and I went out for dinner on the night after Thanksgiving. The soup special was called something like “Turkey Medley,” and it was one of the best-tasting soups I’ve ever had. Somehow, the cook had managed to include almost all of the flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in one soup…the turkey, the dressing and the roasted vegetables….all of it. Right then and there I decided that the following year, we were going back to that same restaurant on the day after Thanksgiving so I could have that soup again. And this time, I planned to take extra home with me. So you can imagine my disappointment a year later when the waiter informed me that the soup special that night was clam chowder.
I think it’s only natural to want to repeat something that we’ve really enjoyed, and sometimes we’re able to do just that. My husband and I fell in love with Sanibel Island the first time we visited and it’s still one of our very favorite vacation spots. But if I’m honest, I have to say that our first visit was the best, because we were discovering someplace brand new, and to us at least, quite wonderful. It’s the same way when I like a movie so much that I go back to the theater to watch it again. I still like it the second time I see it, but I don’t really enjoy the movie as much as I did the first time.
And this is something I have to remember each year as we move into the holiday season, because Christmas is a time when I find myself trying, often subconsciously, to relive the happy moments of past Christmas celebrations. But the truth is, I’m no longer a child so I don’t feel the almost unbearable excitement of waking up on Christmas morning and knowing that there’s a pile of presents for me under our tree. My son and daughter are also grown up now, so the joy of watching their excitement on Christmas morning is also a thing of the past. I’ll cherish those special memories forever, but the truth is that they are not going to be repeated.
And that’s okay. Because if we spend all our time trying to recreate the things we enjoyed in the past, we’ll never be able to appreciate all that the present has to offer. It’s true that I’ll never again celebrate Christmas as a young child or as the mother of young children, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in this holiday and in all the ones that will follow. For the next few years, I’ll enjoy being the grandmother of small children, which has it’s own benefits. I get to share their excitement and joy, but their own parents have to do most of the work of preparing for the holidays.
My husband and I have been back to the restaurant that served that fabulous soup many times, but it’s never been offered again. Clearly, it was a one-time experience. But we have tried other menu items and specials, and many of them were absolutely delicious. Which just goes to show, I think, that sometimes we have to let go of the past in order to fully appreciate the present…..