Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Memories + Keepsakes
I love peonies. They are the most lush, fragrant, lavish, elegant flower. This last Sunday they were at the front door of Whole Foods, and they were calling my name. You know what I mean, that extravagant item that you can't walk past, your heart just desires it, longs for it, this one thing makes your heart sing, even if only for a moment. This is not a need, it is a want. An expense that only you can justify. So, I bought these gorgeous raspberry peonies, just for me. i am still smelling them, touching them, enjoying them, and my heart is still singing. When they are shriveled and brown I will throw them away and only the memories will remain. Sweet memories.
Some people can not justify the expense of a memory. A wedding costs thousands of dollars and the majority of arguments between bride and groom is over the amount of money to be spent. One, or the other (not necessarily the grooms) can not see the value of an expensive, lavish celebration, a delicious over-the-top meal, fragrant lavish flowers, or a gorgeous custom designed cake or dessert table. I was considering the reason for this argument when it occurred to me....my own parents are a prime example of two people who perceive "value" in different ways.
My father loved adventure. He loved this country and traveled to almost every state at least once. Good food, laughing with friends, a beautiful sunset or sunrise, especially in the desert, was better than gold. He had a thirst for life and drank in every moment as if it was his last.
My mother planned most of their trips. She researched, packed, saved and made the lists that organized their lives. When, where, what and how...that was her job. She loved this job. She was never in our family pictures because she was always the photographer. Her idea of a great party, celebration or vacation experience was a good souvenir. Our house growing up was full of them. An Indian blanket, huge wooden rockers on the porch from a furniture company in Kentucky, platters and glasses and vases made by artists from all over the country. All were reminders of the special days of their lives.
Two people, two different mindsets. My father's memories spilled from him anytime we took the time to reminisce. Stories from his life were colorful and filled with humor and magic moments that lit up his face. He remembered every detail, the color of the water in each ocean, the wonderful tastes of the food in each small cafe along the way, and the endearing qualities of each person he shared them with.
Mom is a great story teller, although she tends to embellish a little. As she describes the details of each adventure, the focus is on the assets, the tangible, touchable, and valuable items they acquired at each location. Don't get me wrong here. She absolutely loved seeing my Dad and others enjoy the experience. But you couldn't help but notice that she wasn't necessarily as thrilled with the moment. She was always considering what she could physically grab to remind her or Dad of this moment.
As a result, their home was eventually filled with these treasures. They downsized, Dad passed away, and then Mom went into Assisted Living. The treasures now need to be sold, passed on, or given away. The moral of this story? There isn't one. Only a question. Which person are you?
As you plan a celebration, whether it is a wedding, birthday, holiday, or just a really fun get together of friends, is it the experience that you will cherish, or the souvenirs? A cake topper, garter, silk flowers, or a leather-bound photo album may be all that is left at the end of the day. Is that enough for you? The experience and the memories are the things that will be shared with your children, friends, and family throughout the years. Will your face light up as you tell the story of your special day? The taste of the cake, the dancing, laughing, the way the light fell on the face of the one you love as you danced the last dance of the night. What will you take with you as a memento? In the end, the argument should not be over the cost. As a couple, or as the host, I hope you will plan a celebration of love, your life and your thirst for them both. Enjoy every moment and focus on the smiles, enjoyment and the experience for you and your guests. This will be something you will never forget, stories you will tell again and again throughout the years. And if you need a souvenir to remember and hold on to the day, pick one, and press it between the pages of your favorite book to share with your grandchildren some day....and smile when you tell them the story.