Archives For memories

A Holiday Tradition Reborn

Erik Cooper —  December 1, 2010 — 2 Comments

It’s December 1, which means one of our family’s longest held Christmas traditions is officially resurrected (Or reborn? Wrong holiday).

The Advent Calendar.

A holiday staple my parents began when I was a child, and one we’ve enjoyed passing down to our own children.

Every day in December through Christmas Eve, a special activity is planned to help bring the holiday to life. Each morning it’s etched (OK, it’s really just printed with whatever pen I can find) on a strip of paper and placed behind the little door of our calendar, waiting for the kids to scramble down the stairs revealing the daily surprise.

Sometimes they’re major, like our annual trek to the ISO’s Yuletide Celebration. 

Sometimes they’re simple, like a slumber party in mom and dad’s room with hot chocolate and a Christmas movie.

And sometimes they’re selfless, like buying or donating a toy to the Wheeler Women’s & Children’s Shelter (part of our CityCom 12 Days of Christmas I’ll write more about later).

I’m normally not a traditionalist, but there’s something about this time of year that screams for special, repetitive family landmarks. Consistent smells. Consistent sounds. Consistent activities. Intentionality that draws the family together and builds memories our kids can carry with them into their own future adventures.

That’s why I love this time of the year.

What are your holiday traditions?

Saying Goodbye

Erik Cooper —  September 22, 2010 — 1 Comment

We just finished moving my parents from their home (our home) of 32 years. House empty. Papers signed. Deal done.

And even though I haven’t called that space home for over a decade and half now, I still feel like we’ve said goodbye to a friend. A refuge. Home base. A constant in a world that never seems to want to stop spinning and changing.

Why is it so hard to say goodbye, (you know you’re singing Boys 2 Men right now) even to an inanimate piece of architecture? For a few reasons I think:

Every smell, every creak, every space holds a richness of life-defining memories. The b-roll of life I can’t always conjure up unless I’m physically there.

Endless hours of rubber band wars with green plastic army men.

Scavenging for hidden Christmas presents while my parents were out to dinner (that Todd Tyson kid was always a bad influence).

Baking gingerbread cookies during the Holidays.

Practicing my fastball in the side yard next to the air conditioning unit (still sorry for all those low and insides dad).

Watching Michael Jackson do the moonwalk at the ’83 Grammy’s (which spawned my enviable fourth grade parachute pant collection).

The walk home with dad after learning of my mom’s first bout with cancer.

The memories travel with us, but they do pixilate over time. And access to the space they were created gives us a renewed development of the slowly deteriorating images. What if I can’t recall? What if I can’t remember? What if I lose the ability to retrieve defining moments that are so much a part of who I am? Of who we are? It can be scary.

But beyond the sentimentality, I think closing a chapter of our lives triggers something deeply spiritual in us as well. We were created for eternity (Ecc. 3:11), and saying a goodbye of any kind reminds us of our curse. That sin emerged and ruined God’s original design. That things just aren’t the way they were supposed to be. That this life is terminal.

That goodbye is inevitable.

Thank God He provided The Way to ensure goodbye can also just be a temporary concept.

This weekend, we (and when I say we, I mostly mean my wife and sister inlaw) started helping my parents prep for their first move in 32 years. We stumbled across some fascinating stuff tucked in dark closets and old desk drawers.

Stuff that belonged to me.

Ticket stubs from Michael W. Smith concerts almost two decades old.  A tic-tac box autographed by Toby Mac (what can I say, we single handed-ly kept CCM in business during the early 90’s).  Senior pictures that look a little bit like two people I know (I heard the camera adds 10 inches to the top of your head, I don’t know).

Memorabilia.  Keepsakes.

Our lives are full of memorabilia. Some trigger beautiful memories.  Some conjure up nightmares.  Some we can’t bear to throw away.  Others we’d like to incinerate (hairspray is flammable…ask my wife).

Good or bad, it’s stuff we hold onto.

Siphoning through all this old memorabilia reminded me of something disturbing Jesus said:

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:34 NLT)

Not all “memorabilia” fills old jewelry boxes or long-forgotten bureau drawers. What am I hanging onto in my life that’s keeping me from having real life?