Appreciating time with loved ones more than anything that's wrapped and under the tree
Everyone has their own holidays, and their own traditions for those days. For those who celebrate Christmas, I've noticed that, regardless of their particular traditions, it's a period of greater emotions.
The month is filled with more intensity and more activity, between the holiday parties, gifts, times spent with friends and family, mailing packages, and so on. That intensity can be seen from people becoming irate about a fight for a parking space or the last popular toy in stock; it can be seen in the care with which presents are selected; it can be felt with the hugs instead of handshakes, as friends greet each other. That emotion can also be hidden as people privately grieve those no longer with them, for whom any gift would gladly be traded for one more day.
As we get older, I think holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are centered around time with loved ones, become more bittersweet. We become aware of the passing and preciousness of time.
For me, it's become a conscious decision and deliberate tradition to try to be up before anyone else, and to sit in front of the tree and fire with my coffee and to reflect: to remember those I can't spend the day with, and to love the moments I had; to appreciate those with whom I'll spend the day; and to cherish the memories waiting to be made. I'll accept the tears tied to past loss in order to have the laughs tied to the people still with me.
The intensity of both emotions are part of living vibrantly. They're part of the gifts of the season, and I accept both with gratitude, embracing the moment for whatever it brings and all it has to offer. Happy holidays to all who read this.
Being mindful of the things that matter in life
I think it's neat to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving near where it actually occurred, in one of the areas where the country first began, and with ancestors stretching back to that time and place. It makes the various celebrations feel very authentic and personally connected. But in stripping away the pomp and circumstance, the food and family traditions, I've come to enjoy the premise of pausing to appreciate your life, to be mindful in a way life's daily grind sometimes seems to preclude.
For me, the last decade of Thanksgiving has involved some sort of road trip in New England. It turns the meal into a family adventure. Each year we try to find a way to keep it fresh. This year will include Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant in a quiet, nearby village. It will also involve seeing a play, wandering amidst a holiday lights display, shopping at small businesses, and seeing where else our path leads.
The food is the least of my interests; my focus is around the immersive time with family, being able to laugh, share stories, play games, and engage in a way we couldn't do in a single meal or day.
Despite life's inevitable challenges and some years being particularly tough, or maybe being mindful because of those things, I give thanks for the chance to really connect with the people who mean the most to me.
That weird but harmless dude who might strike up a conversation with you.
I was up again before the sun, quietly easing from my bed and the house to avoid waking anyone. I headed down to a new spot to photograph that seemed to have some potential.
I was the only person there, originally, and scouted the area to figure out the shots I wanted and places from which to shoot. I'd photographed several when a couple of people arrived.
A guy set up on a bench well off to the side. A woman had an impressive-looking camera and was pretty confident in her shots as she meandered. After a bit, I gave her some space on a long boardwalk out over the marsh so I didn't photo bomb, and I set up nearby for some other pictures.
She was walking off the boardwalk and I couldn't help but ask if she were on Instagram, as I'd be interested in seeing what she captured as a comparison against mine to learn from. After she was reassured that I wasn't a freak, we wound up in a great conversation, with her sharing her passions, the story of how she came to be there at that moment, and asking questions as someone less familiar with the area.
I shared some of my own details and wound up in a great fifteen-minute conversation at 5:30 a.m. with a total stranger on this tiny, otherwise-deserted little beach. It's chance encounters such as this that feel like little bricks in the foundation of a good life.
One of my favorite pictures of my girls and their friends... This picture, to me, captures the essence of childhood summers.
Summer still has weeks to go. On this picturesque day, after hours of fun, the crowds have largely left for their evening barbecues or dinner at a local restaurant. But my kids were still going strong. Each was simultaneously part of a group and alone with her thoughts. The sun cascading across the tidal pool, leaving them as a silhouette seemed fitting - the details are much less consequential than the bigger picture.
I didn't call for their attention and tried to blend in with the background. Other than taking this picture, I tried to just appreciate that these kids were pleasantly lost in their own heads, sharing a good experience, and that I'd helped create the environment for this moment to happen. It felt intimate, sharing this group moment, and aware that each of my daughters and their friends were having their own version of it. I'll relive this moment, and believe that they'll look back on this photo in the years to come and will do the same.
The Good Life...
is filled with little snippets of time that can disproportionately impact our days. This is a chance to capture and share them.