Today is Black Friday and lot of people are excited to hit the stores for those great deals. Tomorrow is small business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday. Each of these days represent a common mindset in our western culture—joy and happiness are in the gifts we receive on Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love opening up presents. There is something that is absolutely magical about the gifts and decorations at Christmas. Yet, I’ve realized that the feelings of nostalgia don’t emanate from things—it’s the moments that I remember most.
How about you? Think back to a time when you were younger. Out of the memories that pop into your mind first, is it of a toy or is it related to a moment?
When I think of moments, what comes to my mind is sledding outside until my fingers are red just so I can come inside and warm them up with a hot cup of homemade hot chocolate. It’s getting up in the morning before everyone else and sitting quietly in the dancing light of the Christmas tree. It is the tradition of going to my grandmother’s house every Christmas Day Evening. The moments become even more precious—when you can’t make more.
A week ago today, we buried my grandmother. I can honestly say that I don’t have any regrets, but what grieves me most is not being able to create more memories with her. I loved my grandmother dearly. She taught me a lot about life and she left us all with a legacy.
I had the honor of sharing at her funeral on behalf of my family and how much she meant to all of us. Although it was just a week ago, these words I shared still echo in my heart:
My grandma was a woman who lived a good life—a life she loved. As many of you know, she was a teacher and although she was successful in teaching, she mastered the craft of being a student. My grandma was a student of people. In a time when everyone tells their story and people listen only to respond with their story—she simply listened. My grandma was one of the best listeners I have ever known. She asked questions and remembered the details. She was our biggest fan. She believed in us. She modeled for all of us a life of character and integrity by listening with her heart and by honoring and encouraging others.
For me, my favorite memory was when I was probably about seven or eight years old. We were meeting grandma at Burger King. I was so excited to place my order because my mom had said I could order a Whopper—if—I could eat it all. I stepped up to give my order and said, “Can I have a Whopper?” My grandma was standing next to me at the time. She leaned over to me and said, “Sonya, you can have a Whopper, but it is proper to say, ‘May I have a Whopper?” Even today, when I write or speak, I can still hear my grandma’s voice and I think, what would grandma say? I will always treasure this lesson on the importance of words.
Grandma showed each of us a little bit of the good life—laughter, tradition, and that life is good even when life is hard. As we enter this holiday season, in tribute to my grandma, I’d encourage you to listen with your hearts and collect moments, not things.”
So today and in this holiday season, I invite you to treasure up the moments you share with friends and families. The moments are what make a lasting impression. Although they don’t cost much necessarily in monetary value—the value of the moments makes us more of who we are.