A shadowy past …a clear present…a different future

Fred posing with one of my favorite books ( a one hundred year old little leather copy of A Christmas Carol)
Fred posing with one of my favorite books (a one hundred year old little leather copy of A Christmas Carol)

We had Thanksgiving dinner with my family this year. When my brother announced that he’d be hosting the day (late last summer) I didn’t think I’d be going. So many family holiday gatherings have been less than joy-filled for me. At times they seemed more like emotional endurance contests, than times of happy connection and grateful sharing of life’s goodness. But over the past few months, as I thought about Thanksgiving day, I knew that I would be going to my brother’s house…… but how? How could I go, and have a different experience?

I didn’t want to just make it through the day. I didn’t want to be praying constantly to feel acceptance. I didn’t want to be so exhausted by the end of our time together, that I felt as if I’d been through the emotional wringer. I didn’t want to be so unconscious that I’d leave wondering why I’d said things (that in retrospect) were spoken from a nervous energy. I didn’t want to be artificially quiet, or feel the need to tell jokes and be the life of the party.  I knew what I didn’t want, but what I didn’t want, seemed to be what my past experience (with family) was.

Early Thanksgiving morning, sitting with my coffee, outside, before the sun came up, I looked at the sky and the stars and this idea came; “Go today with the thought that you’ve never met any of these people before, as if you’ve had no past….at all. Look with interest, listen with interest, because you want to find out who they are. And, you want to be delighted with what you find out about each one….so you are going to have to look for it.”

This thought/divine idea, filled me with a new kind of energy. I instantly felt different about the day. I was excited. I was looking forward to seeing everyone….and I could hardly believe it. It was as if I’d been tapped with a magic wand and suddenly I was free of past….or negative past.

So, now to the actual day…and what happened.

Wonder, happiness, connection, love….these are what happened. As we drove home that night I kept thinking about this, and knew I’d share it here. What I saw, in stark relief, was something I’ve experienced in many areas of my life before, but never so clearly with an issue that seemed like it had been there forever: tension with my family.

What I experienced was this: as soon as I changed (really changed, didn’t just put on a facade of happiness or love) everything and everyone changed to meet the new me.

“I am here… the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!” page 118, from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

17 thoughts on “A shadowy past …a clear present…a different future”

  1. I, too, was able to enjoy my family Thanksgiving for the first time in a long time. We played a hilarious cardgame. I’ve never laughed so hard.

  2. This is the most excellent idea….wish i would have had it at a very large memorial service of a person from my past…most who i figured would just me from my past not my forward hard 30 years…i will carry this close to my heart next time 🙂 …have a wonderful week…blessings

  3. “The courage to change the things I can” ME! By sharing your wisdom and experience once again u have encouraged me to continue on this ” I can only change myself” path! Love the quote , how interesting ,never really READ that before. Xo

  4. Ah…my favorite book, “A Christmas Carol.” Back in the 1950’s, a movie was made of this book and it starred Alistair Sims. This is my go-to holiday movie, and only this version, and I watch it faithfully every Christmas Eve. And every Christmas Eve, I come away with yet a new lesson, much like I do every day, Mary, reading your terrific posts.

    This is a great lesson you’ve shared with us. I will have so many opportunities to practice it, given some of the people in my life. 🙂 So glad your inspiration gave you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Such a great perspective and attitude. I love this approach. When we look at others through a brand new lens as well as open ourselves to allow others to really see us, wondrous things can happen.I believe that having a willingness to be known and having a willingness to know another is what makes a relationship rich and lasting and special. Happy December! Love the snowflakes! XOXO

  6. High expectations most times leads to huge disappointments. So if you give of yourself and don’t expect a lot in retrurn this generally results in something more satisfying.That is my life experience for variou situations.

    It read this post as somehing along those lines. I’m so glad that you had a lovely Thanksgiving. Life changes our perspectives and often does give one a better understanding of our selves.

  7. For the last several months, Mary, it seems that each of your writings is more pertinent to my life’s situation than the one before it. It is astonishing the awareness that comes to an open heart…a “yes to life.” Both my mother and a sister have mirrored to me how often I’ve been a “no” person and how much unhappiness this attitude brings me.

    When I opened today’s blog and saw the title, “a shadowy past, a clear present, a different future, I knew that again, this message is mine. What a difference it makes when we say yes. Blessings to you, Mary, for your gifts to us all. love to you and yours…….

  8. p.s. I nearly forgot to say how much the snowflakes delight me! A calming and wintery touch

  9. I will use this at Christmas this year with my husband’s family and am SURE it will be different from the days in the past as I will be different! Hugs to Fred and I know you cherish that precious book.

  10. What an amazing share today Mary and an equally amazing idea we might all use! As I began to read your post I wondered HOW you would accomplish your goal and when I came to the part where the idea came to you I thought “wow, I would never have thought of such a great idea!” How wonderful that it worked so well. I could picture you glowing in happiness/contentment on your drive home.
    Love and hugs, Marian

  11. Mary, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this post! We’re having a major conflict in our family and on Thanksgiving Day all was well until my sister spewed nastiness at my other sister. I’ve kept this post and am going to discuss it with some of my siblings. Hopefully some understanding will ensue and some of the hurt feelings we have from ‘SPEWING SISTER’ after these family gatherings can become a thing of the past. BUT, the major genius of your post is clear yourself of resentments and pretend family members are new, exciting people to get to know. They become so much more interesting if YOU are interested in them. Thank you for all of your loving help navigating these kinds of problems P.S. If I lived closer I might have to kidnap Fred! :o)

  12. Thanks again Mary. Wonderful post. I love the snowflakes! I remember when you put them on your blog last year!

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