This past weekend, I pretty much completely switched off from social, turned my phone off, and focused solely on my family.
On Sunday, we went to my wife’s aunt and uncle’s for Easter dinner, and a chance to bring together the various parts of my wife’s family around the same table.
This year, there were some new faces at the table as cousins brought their partners. There were also a couple of absent faces, as life and other commitments took precedent.
As a way to catch up on all the important things happening in each others’ lives, this past Sunday ticked all the much-needed boxes – good food and drink, laughs, hugs, and people that enjoyed each others’ company.
Yet it was also a reminder to appreciate the little things more.
With Every Passing Year, Memories Begin to Take Over
I moved to Canada in December 2006. The first week I was here, I pretty much met all of my wife’s immediate family at a special brunch four days after I arrived.
It was equally daunting and joyous.
Daunting, because meeting your future wife’s family on both sides so soon after arriving in a new country is always something you’re never quite ready for.
The little moments are often bigger than we realize.
Joyous, because my wife had already warned me that, unlike most other women, it wasn’t her father I had to impress if we were going to work, but her grandfather. If I passed his inspection, we were good to go.
Thankfully, I passed with flying colours.
In fact, my wife’s grandparents have kind of adopted me as their son, and I call them “mum” and “dad”. And, yes, I know, calling your wife’s grandparents mum and dad is all kind of messed up genealogy, but what you gonna do?
Looking back at that first meeting, and then around the dinner table on Sunday, it dawned on me how each passing year sees less in-the-moment experiences, and results in more memories instead.
Couples that were together at the time of that first dinner have broken up, or got married and had kids, and are doing their own thing now.
Families that were together then have splintered and people are doing their own thing with their own (new and/or wed-into) families.
While the friends and family at the current table settings talk, and laugh, and share the news of their last 12 months, it’s clear to see that memories of another time are beginning to overtake the memories of the moment.
That’s no bad thing, per se – just a reminder that the current won’t always be here, and we need to appreciate it while it is.
Pause, Breathe, Smile
One of the things I enjoy in life is taking in the surroundings and the moments being created.
Walking in the park and looking at the small stories happening all around me, sitting in silence on the commute and watching the world go on regardless of my place in it, and watching nature’s ebb and flow from season to season.
It’s my way of reminding myself that we need to pause, breathe and smile to really live life.
This weekend’s family dinner was no different. In quiet moments, as my kids were playing with my wife’s cousin’s kids, I sat and watched the interactions around the house.
Grandparents that had been the heads of so many previous dinners now smiling as others did the work, letting them sit and enjoy the attention and love given to them.
New dinner hosts bringing their own touches to the food we would consume, and setting the table so we’d all have prominent places for the stories we would share.
New faces fitting in and becoming part of the family that was so welcoming to me so many years ago. And everything was as it should be.
While there were a couple of photographs taking for posterity, that was the only time technology interrupted the human experience. Phones were left in pockets, and people simply enjoyed each others’ company.
We have big moments in life every day. Career changes, relationship changes, new life, death – all big moments, all changing how we perceive life.
In-between, though, we have many little moments that, while they may not be hugely life-changing, contribute to who we are at a moment in time, and who we are once that moment has passed.
For me, these family dinners are a series of little moments that, in the grand scheme of things, help us move towards the bigger moments by helping us remember what’s important.
Here’s to the little moments and all they mean to us.