I woke too early this morning, and by “too early” I mean that I definitely wanted to sleep later, certainly had the time for sleeping later, and just could not convince my brain that sleeping later was the thing to do this morning. I finally got up at 5 am, after tossing and turning, meditating, fussing, and daydreaming for about two hours. I feel well-rested, I just didn’t “feel like” getting up so early. I’m definitely awake, though.

Yesterday was spent quietly; easily achieved without having the temptation of television lurking nearby all the time. I don’t miss the TV. I’m getting by, computer-wise, on my work laptop, although it is not truly a substitute. I can at least write, much more easily than if I had to use my phone each morning. I’m content with things as they are. I have what I need, and that’s enough.

Yule is on my mind this weekend, as I set up the holiday tree, and decorate the house for the holiday season. Each year when I open the box of ornaments, it is as if I am holding precious memories in my hands. I decorate the tree, and remember things. Each ornament is a story, from a place and time before now. Each year I add one or two more ornaments, significant in some way, and they add to this strange memory box that only gets opened once a year – but always does get opened, yearly. Each year I consider who I am in the context of a lifetime. Each year I emotionally gorge on an intense assortment of recollections, until, by New Year’s Day, it is both timely and necessary that it all be put away for another year. Each year I hold in my hands small fragile reminders of good times and bad, of past versions of the woman in the mirror, of old pain, old sorrow, old joy, and old delight.

When I was much younger, the ornaments were selected with less care, more randomly, more about “ooh, shiny!” sorts of moments and impulses, and much less about what story they could tell, later. In recent years, new ornaments have been selected with great care, and the ornaments themselves become part of the story of who I am, told (mostly) in glass… and glitter, sequins, ceramic, paper, and twinkly lights. There is a gap in these memories (my own memories as well, it’s just placed differently in time); when my first marriage ended, I took only my “personal effects”, and my artwork, leaving everything else behind – including 13 years of Yule celebrations, 6 of those in Germany (the lovely ornaments purchased at the Augsburg Christkindlesmarkt we visited each year – all gone).  In their place, the worn cardboard box of small glass ornaments, 18 balls in assorted colors, that were the first ornaments I bought (at the local discount store next to the apartment complex I moved into) to begin rebuilding Yule after my marriage ended (they’re now more than 20 years old). I had visited my Granny that year over the holidays. In a wily Machiavellian act of master manipulation, she engineered a reconciliation between my parents and I, ending an estrangement that had lasted longer than my first marriage had, itself. I returned home with ornaments from childhood, a gift from my mother. She later sent me others. They remind me of childhood Yule celebrations, and more subtle things.

I’ll finish the weekend by finishing the decorating, savoring the moments revealed one by one as I hang the ornaments on the tree. Finally getting to the ornaments I made in that last holiday before I chose to live alone; it was a peculiarly awkward, sometimes rather grim holiday, that year. I celebrated mostly alone, in a shared household. The ornaments I made are lasting reminders that love can’t be forced or negotiated with, and once lost it is gone. They also remind me how much of my experience is chosen, and that even in the difficult moments in life, happy memories can be made, cherished, savored – and can become the lasting recollection of a trying time in life. I’m still working on that; there are verbs involved. 🙂

I sip my coffee and look across the dining table, still covered with ornament boxes of a variety of sizes. I’m only half-finished. It’s a time-consuming process for me to set up the tree alone; I pause for memories rather a lot. Some years I cry rivers of tears, too. This year hasn’t been that way; I celebrate with a quiet joy, and reflect more on what is, than on what isn’t. It’s not a process I rush. I have time – all weekend. Hell, I have a lifetime to unpack what memories I have, to cherish them, to savor them, to return them to their tidy boxes when the moment is done. Time enough to ask myself “why is this one significant?”, and “still?”, and “even now?”, and remind myself it is okay to set down some baggage this year (every year) and go forward a bit more the woman I most want to be.

The story of life's climate, and the emotional weather are told in so many ways; memories, however real they seem, are not moments. :-)

Memories and moments, today will be filled with both. 🙂

Today is a good day for a cup of coffee and a handful of memories. I smile and think of my Traveling Partner, and the memories we have made together, and this strange wonderful somewhat unconventional choice to be both quite partnered and quite solitary. I sip my coffee contentedly. Isn’t contentment enough? Ah, but what about changing the world? Let’s not forget to do that, too. 🙂 I get up to make a second coffee… as with most things, including changing the world, there are verbs involved. 😉