Tag Archives: holiday memories

Recounting A Special Christmas Gift (And What Made It So Special)

The holidays are a special time of year. Even in a year like this, we should appreciate that. If anything, a year like this should help us appreciate it even more. Even if we can’t have big Christmas parties or shop in crowded malls, the spirit of the season is something to cherish.

I certainly have a fondness for the holidays. I’ve made no secret of that. I think a year like this has inspired me to get more personal and share more holiday joy than usual. If it helps distract us from how awful 2020 has been, I’m happy to contribute.

To that end, I’d like to share a personal holiday memory that is near and dear to my heart. It’s also fairly recent, so I won’t rely on the kind of child-like excitement that comes with getting your first bike or video game console.

That being said, I still rank my first Super Nintendo as the greatest Christmas gift of all time, but that’s a story for another time.

This particular story happened just last year, long before we knew 2020 was going to crush our spirits. It involves a very special gift that I received from my brother. I’m not sure if he reads this site regularly, but he knows better than anyone why this gift was so special.

To set the stage, I need to explain some of my family’s holiday traditions. Ours aren’t that unique. Me, my siblings, and their significant others all gather at my parents’ house. We all bring our gifts, put them under the tree, and make opening them this big shared event. It’s simple, but it hits all the right holiday tones.

Traditionally, my family knows what to get me long before Christmas. They know me well and they know my tastes are simple. Get me some comic books, some superhero apparel, or something related to football and I’m a happy guy. I like to think I’m fairly easy to shop for.

That didn’t stop my brother from going the extra mile this year. As it just so happened, his was one of the last gifts I’d opened. At that point, I was already a happy guy, swimming in new comics and clothes. This last gift, however, caught me by surprise in a very personal way.

I still remember holding the seemingly innocuous box. It didn’t look like anything elaborate. For all I knew, it was another comic or Blu-Ray movie. I just casually opened it. That’s when I saw it.

It was a framed picture.

Specifically, it was a picture of my grandmother, who had passed away just a few years ago.

Seeing her again, even in a picture, hit me in a way I didn’t respect. Even though she had been gone for years at that point, seeing her again reminded me of how much I missed her. It was somewhat jarring, but in a good way.

I just remember taking the picture out, holding it up, and looking at it for a good long while. I might have disrupted the overall jolly spirit of the room, but I think they understood why.

My brother, along with the rest of my family, knew how close I was to my grandmother. They also knew how hard it was for her during her final years. I visited her regularly and I watched as her health declined. It wasn’t easy, to say the least.

It helped that this particular picture that my brother framed was taken shortly before she fell ill. She was still smiling, as lively as any woman in her 90s could be at that point. Seeing that look on her face, even if it was just in a picture, was enough to make my heart skip a beat.

I almost broke down, but I managed to keep it together. It helped that my older sister came over and hugged me. She knew how much my grandmother meant to me, as well. It was a powerful moment, but one that made both that gift and that Christmas extra special.

That picture my brother gave me still has a prominent place on my shelf. As I write this, it’s right behind me. It still brings me comfort to this day, seeing my grandmother in that picture. For that, I’ll always be grateful to her and to my brother for giving me such a special gift.

Bro, if you’re reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for making that Christmas special and for going the extra mile in giving me that gift. You’re the best!

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Holiday Memories: A Cherished Thanksgiving Memory

As you get older, you come to treasure certain memories more than most. It’s a natural thing. If you’ve conducted yourself a certain way, it can be a beautiful thing. It’s not always a pleasant process, especially as you encounter major life challenges and inevitable hardships. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

The holidays are a time during which we form many such memories. I certainly have. Some of my most cherished memories occurred over the holidays. Some were on Christmas and some were on Thanksgiving. This year, with so many friends and family still isolated due to the pandemic, I find myself contemplating those memories more than usual.

I doubt I’m alone. There’s just no getting around it. For Thanksgiving, especially, we just can’t do things the way we normally do in 2020. That’s just the reality of a deadly pandemic. We can’t travel, get together, or casually share used forks. It’s sad and frustrating, but that’s just the way things have to be for this year.

For me and my family, that’s especially difficult. That’s because every year, my parents make it a point to make their house, the same one I grew up in, the epicenter of all things Thanksgiving. Every year, family from all over traveled to our part of the country to get together, have a giant meal, and just enjoy each other’s company.

These gatherings were often the biggest family gatherings of the year. It wasn’t unusual for there to be at least 20 people crammed into that house. It was big and rowdy, but we all loved it. I certainly did. We had so much fun, sharing in the joys of food, family, and football. I’m really going to miss that this year.

Rather than dwell on that, though, I’d like to share a quick personal story that I hope will get others through this pandemic-hit holiday. It just happens to be one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories of all time and one that perfectly defines what makes my family so awesome.

This particular memory unfolded when I was fairly young. I was still in elementary school at the time and much of my extended family wasn’t that much older. Once again, my parents made their house the central focus of Thanksgiving festivities and we attracted quite a crowd. I remember aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends joining in, some of which I hadn’t seen in years.

In addition to the usual gathering and feasting, the weather this year was just perfect. It was unusually warm for late November. A number of cousins and friends wore shorts and a T-shirt. It was just that nice out. As a result, we hung around outside a lot more than usual. It’s here where this Thanksgiving memory really takes hold.

Shortly after we ate, a bunch of cousins and extended family gathered in the backyard and started throwing around a football, as many are inclined to do on Thanksgiving. It started as a simple game of catch between a few cousins. It then evolved into a full-fledged game, complete with route running, elaborate plays, and touchdown dances.

We didn’t plan it.

We didn’t keep score.

We didn’t even set clear rules and time limits.

We all just came together as friends and family to play a football game in the backyard. It felt so natural and organic. It was a perfect manifestation of everything we loved about Thanksgiving get-togethers.

If that weren’t memorable enough, some clouds rolled in near sunset and it started raining suddenly. However, not one person in the backyard ran inside. If anything, it just made everyone more excited to play. The game kept going. We kept running around, tackling each other, and just had an all-around great time.

Being a kid with a belly full of Thanksgiving dinner, I honestly didn’t want it to end. I wanted to just hang out back there and play football until the sun went down. Even as some friends and family had to leave, we kept going for as long as we could. When it finally ended, I knew on some levels that this had been a special Thanksgiving.

Time has only proven that sentiment right. To date, it’s one of my most cherished Thanksgiving memories. I’ll likely cherish it even more as I endure a Thanksgiving without that big family gathering I’ve come to love and appreciate. I know many in my family feel the same way.

Thanksgiving this year may be disappointing in its scope, but I would encourage them and everyone who shares that feeling to think back to those memories. More importantly, use them as inspiration, as well as motivation, to make Thanksgiving in 2021 even more special.

I hope this little story has boosted your holiday spirits. I also hope everyone finds a way to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, however tempered it might be. The holidays are here. Let’s not allow a pandemic to dampen our spirits.

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A Memorable (And Funny) Thanksgiving Story About My Ex-Girlfriend

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It’s that time of year again. The holidays are almost upon us and we’re at the point where we can no longer complain about people putting their decorations up too early. It’s a wonderful, festive time. I’ve always loved the holidays. I’m usually among the first to put my decorations up, much to the chagrin of family and friends.

The holidays often bring out the best in people. You don’t have to look too hard for examples of that. Some of my fondest family memories have occurred over the holidays. I’ve even shared a few of them. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I’d like to share another. Once again, it involves my ex-girlfriend.

I’ve shared stories about her before and, by and large, I’ve tried to show her in a positive light. I really enjoyed my time with her while we were together. I’m not at all bitter that we didn’t work out. I like to think that she feels the same way. A few years after we broke up, I found out that she got married and is genuinely happy. I hope I can one day say the same.

This particular story, however, highlights a moment that she doesn’t remember that fondly. As it just so happens, that moment unfolded when she visited my area for Thanksgiving. While I still think it’s funny, I doubt she’ll agree. At the same time, I think she would laugh as well when recalling the details.

It actually occurred after we’d been together for a while. She’d visited my place before. She’d met my family and got along with them quite well. My family is wonderful, warm, and welcoming as a whole, especially around the holidays. We definitely got that point across during previous visits. In hindsight, it might have set the stage for what happened next.

It was the day after Thanksgiving. Typically, after the big meal, we get together with a few relatives and family friends for another gathering not far from where my parents live. It wasn’t as big or crowded as Thanksgiving dinner. It was mostly an excuse for other relatives to meet up, make more food, and catch up after however many months it had been since our last gathering.

While driving her there, I gave her a few details about this side of my family. There weren’t too many caveats or taboos to warn her about. That was a good thing too because she didn’t have much of a filter. She said what was on her mind and did things her own way. That was part of what attracted me to her. Knowing this, I still made one thing clear to her before we arrived.

Do NOT try and pet the cat. He will scratch you and not in a cute way.

I must have told her that at least three times. I was dead serious too. This particular house had a rather notorious cat that a close relative had been caring for. I know cats aren’t known for being social creatures, but this one was a special kind of mean. He didn’t like anyone, except for those who regularly fed him.

I’d seen this cat attack more than a few friends and relatives who didn’t heed that warning. I knew it would be tricky for my ex-girlfriend because she loves animals. She had a pet of her own back home and she never missed an opportunity to interact with them, especially if they were cute. I urged her to make an exception this time. I even tried to distract her from the cat once we arrived.

It was no use. Shortly after we sat down for dinner, the cat wandered near the table. My ex-girlfriend saw him and just couldn’t resist. I warned her again. I told her not to go near him. She didn’t listen. To no one’s surprise, including my own, the cat scratched her the moment she tried to pet him. He scratched her pretty good too. It required a band aid and ointment.

Naturally, she was not happy. While I helped tend to her hand, I couldn’t stop laughing. She thought she could coax some affection out of that cat. I admired her confidence, her heart, and her bravery. It still wasn’t enough.

Much to her credit, she scolded herself more than she scolded me. After all, I did warn her multiple times. She just chose not to listen. She avoided the cat for the rest of the visit. I’m pretty sure that was the first time she despised an otherwise adorable animal. It was jarring and it did affect her mood for the rest of the day.

She still got over it. She even joked about it the next day. It might not have been the most romantic moment we shared during her visit, but it definitely made Thanksgiving more memorable, albeit for unusual reasons.

Moments like that are part of what make the holidays special. They’re also moments that make relationships special, even if they don’t work out. I’m certain that if I ever crossed paths with my ex again, I could tell her the name of that cat and she would remember. She might not remember it as fondly as I do, but I think she’d still laugh at it.

One day, when I meet the love of my life, I hope to make many memories like that. I also hope plenty of them occur on Thanksgiving, but I think I could do without asshole cats.

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