This year has been nothing if not unexpected. Earlier this month I was meticulously cleaning up the photo albums on my phone for about three or four hours. To be honest, doing so was not something I had planned to do – especially not over the end of year holidays, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. Soon enough the word purge entered my mind and I decided that is precisely what I was doing.
What I was transferring out of my phone were all work images, videos, messages, screen captures, and other miscellaneous items that somehow over the course of several years had begun to overshadow any semblance of my own private life. That particular expression private life intrigued me at that moment.
As the personal photos and videos started to reemerge from under all of my “work stuff” I couldn’t help but reminisce about how much has happened in 2022. More importantly, how much it matters to capture the little moments that we get to spend with each other in the little time that we are here. There were the pictures of Edgar and my nephew Alex carpooling from Houston to Northwest Arkansas; the 20th birthday festivities we shared with him in Houston and Galveston at his favorite restaurant Xochi; the before and after of our painting the walls here in this house from avocado green to pure white; us leaving our studio in the East End in Houston and rebuilding it here in the spare room without any windows; our visiting the Texas hill country; and so much more. It made me want to commit to never waiting this long to clean out my phone again!
For the first time, this year, we also are spending the entire Christmas break on our own outside of Houston. That’s given us an opportunity to think about the traditions that we want to carry on and create for ourselves, for our family. Instead of cooking a turkey or making tamales and waiting until the evening of Christmas Eve to eat, we opted for barbecue and sides from a local restaurant and broke bread just after noon on the 24th. We had plenty of left overs to carry us through Christmas Day as well. Don’t get me wrong, tamales would have been great, but they are too much work. More work than we were willing to put into a holiday meal.
So we settled for barbecue on Christmas and fried chicken on Thanksgiving Day, and guess what? It was pretty special. Not because of the food. Because of the effort we made to make the day special with each other. To overlook the little things that on other days perhaps would have felt like bigger things. To sit together and converse, make plans together, spend time together, and just be together as much as possible for a few days. It sounds simple, but for us it felt pretty major.
A lot of times we can get so caught up in the busyness of the day-to-day that it is hard to see or hear anything else that is going on around us. Before we know it people and situations have changed and we can find ourselves longing for something we didn’t even realize we would miss when we were living it. That has been the biggest lesson for me in all of this.
To stop, step back, look up, pay attention, listen, as much as possible from here on out.