These memories spring to mind this time of year.
It was always a day much anticipated. I was so excited when it finally arrived.
Much planning had gone into the meal, and now the actual preparation began. Soon wonderful smells wafted throughout the house. We sniffed the savory aroma of the turkey as it began its journey to golden perfection. That was the base. Hovering above in the treble clef was the sweet smell of the pumpkin being prepared for the pie. Other smells made up the symphony
In my mind I see people working together in the kitchen. A bottle of wine has been opened, and this fuels the conversation even further.
It is that rare time when the whole family gets together — maybe only once or twice a year. Old feuds and hard feelings are suspended, and all try to make it a memorable day. The kids are playing games; the adults gossip and catch up. Laughter erupts continuously as old times emerge with some of the funny experiences of the past.
Somehow a table is found that provides sufficient space for everybody. It is groaning with wonderful food and soon the people are groaning as well with their stomachs the fullest they’ve ever been. It all ends with the glow of a special day that everyone vows to repeat as they take their leave.
Of course, I’m thinking of Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations of my past. Some memories come from the very dim past, my boyhood. Some never happened. All these memories have come together in my mind in one generalized and idealized image which I have just shared with you.
There is a difference now– the chair that I used to fill is empty. I’m here in Peru and, to be honest, the celebrations of the past are gone forever—those people mostly are no longer with us. With this year, I see that a new generation will take up the flag. I wish them well and hope that maybe some time I can even join them. But for now my life is different. It is sad only in the sense of nostalgia for a past that doesn’t exist any more and never will again.
The chair I fill for these times is here in Peru. The celebration will be different from the memories that I carry, but that is ok. It will be our celebration and will mean just as much as those in the past.
I think of all of us expatriates here in Peru and throughout the world. Most of us have an empty chair somewhere; some celebration that still evokes pleasant and nostalgic memories of our past.
Let us not dwell long on that empty chair. Let us linger only long enough to enjoy the pleasant memories of the past and those we love.
Instead, let us fill the chair we have.
Let the celebration begin!
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