Celebrating More, Comparing Less
By the time I was 9 years old, my family had moved 6 different times and we had lived all over the state of Pennsylvania. The summer between my 3rd and 4th grade years, we moved to a small rural town, nestled in the mountains. It was idyllic, but we were the “foreigners” in a close-knit community.
Our extended family lived in places like Kalamazoo, Michigan and Washington, D.C., the Chicagoland area and Sun City Center, Florida. Time with family was precious, but it wasn’t a regular occurrence. Most holidays were spent with our immediate family, just the 5 of us.
Our first Memorial day in our new home, we received an invitation to a picnic. My sisters and I were bubbling with excitement! This was our opportunity to experience what it felt like to be surrounded by family. From our vantage point, this family was huge. There were aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, cousins twice removed, sisters, brothers and us. But it didn’t take long to feel like we were part of the family. Every Memorial day for the next 10 years looked exactly the same. We loved it. Our small family was welcomed into a huge one.
My family has one more member then the family I grew up in, but we are following a similar pattern. In our married lives, my husband and I have lived in 7 different homes. Our extended family lives in places like Kansas, Indianapolis, Alabama and Washington, D.C. Three years ago, we moved to Rochester, NY and we love it. It is the perfect place for our family.
I have found myself wanting my kids to experience the same Memorial day picnic traditions that I grew up with. But I am learning something. Memories and traditions are a beautiful thing, but sometimes they are simply meant to inspire, not to be duplicated.
As we celebrated those who have sacrificed for our country by going to a parade and then out for ice cream with friends and later with a small picnic with one of my long-time friends, my heart felt satisfied. My kids will have their own memories of holidays.
Our family motto for 2014 is “Celebrate More, Compare Less” and I was reminded of it yesterday. I have been working to fully embrace this concept and in the process I have been discovering the joy of being able to celebrate with others and not compare my own situation or circumstances to them (and thus diminishing my own joy- why do we do this?!!). But yesterday, I was challenged with something new. I need to be careful to not compare our celebrations with my childhood memories. This is just as dangerous, as much a joy-stealer as comparing my life to others.
Celebrating more and comparing less means fully embracing the here and now and not trying to recreate or long for the past.
As I fell asleep last night and reflected on the day, I was filled with happiness. This happiness was not the result of MY own ideas of what a perfect Memorial day looks like. Rather, it was the result of having fully embraced the day.
…enjoying the gorgeous weather
…going for a run/bike ride with my kiddos
…clapping for men and women who have given so much for our country, for our freedom
…enjoying the company of many friends who have become like family to us
…working on my (lack of) softball skills
…buying an old bike for my daughter and watching her enjoy it (even though we will probably be pitching it, because the brakes don’t work!)
…watching my kids laugh and play with each other and with neighbor friends
…sharing one of our favorite summer time meals and sweet conversation with my friend
…reflecting on a beautiful weekend with friends and family
When I take a moment to consider and when I intentionally seek to celebrate and not compare, I am reminded of how truly blessed and beautiful my life is. Not because it is perfect. It’s not. But because I get to choose to celebrate the small moments.
And this is huge.
Celebrating more, comparing less.
Linking with the “Not So Small Stories” community hosted by my blogging friend, Kirsten Oliphant. Check it out!