Family Ties: Someone’s Favorite

I’ve been decorating my home for Christmas and I keep finding special things that remind me of my Aunt Polly: an engraved ornament, my blue porcelain angels, woodland birds. On Saturday evenings when my husband and I watch movies, I work on my crewel embroidery pillow and remember how she taught me the stitches when I was a senior in high school. Later she gave me the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework and wrote in her artful script, “To Connie Riddle with lots, and lots of Love.”

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Polly in our farmhouse kitchen around 1966

While Polly never told me I was her favorite, as every child hopes they are, I always felt a connection to her because she ‘got me’ and I ‘got her.’ Her attention toward me made me feel special– a great thing when you’re growing up and going through the ups-and-downs of figuring out who you are. How reinforcing to feel that you have someone’s favor.

When I was a girl, Polly told me about visiting the Teton Mountains in Wyoming. I felt like I was there when she described the snow-capped mountains and the open space. I’d seen those vistas in Westerns and imagined myself as one of those cowgirls riding a horse. Years later, as a ‘girl’ of  fifty-six, I took my solo journey to Wyoming chasing that dream that had started with Polly. I rode a huge horse named Tequila on a trail ride in the Grand Teton National Park. How I felt Polly’s spirit with me in that place.

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Remembering Polly’s descripton of the Tetons and feeling her presence

My memories of Polly are strong, especially during the Christmas season. Last year, I was feeling the same way and wrote a post, Polly’s Gift. I’d love for you to read it and get to know more about her.  I’ll end this post early in hopes that you’ll read on about Polly and her painting that hangs on the wall in my kitchen every December.

Polly’s Gift

 

How About You?

Is there a family member or another person who has treated you as if you’re a favorite?

What were things they did that communicated that you had a special bond?

How did their favor on you impact your life?

Do you have that type of relationship with a  niece or nephew or some other person?

 

Your Favorite Things

I spotted the Santa holding the globe on an after- Christmas sale table.  That’s mine, I thought and wasn’t sure why I was so attracted to it.  But then looking around my house, I was reminded of the globes and maps I’d collected, drawn to the landforms of the earth and the blues of the oceans.  I remembered the first globe I was attracted to– the one in the wooden stand in Miss Harrington’s fourth grade.

It was located near the large casement window in our classroom in the two-story brick building of Jonesboro School — the same one where my father had graduated.  I remember how I loved her geography class where we learned about faraway places.

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Now I consider how as an adult I started taking solo journeys, pilgrimages to places that my heart is drawn to.  At first, I thought it was surprising how I’d found this path during that first trip to Sedona.  But now I feel there were clues in my childhood that I’d forgotten as an adult, especially once life became so busy when I entered my profession and then had a family.  My focus shifted to my sons’ favorite things, trying to provide them with what they were uniquely drawn to.

Sometimes we lose ourselves along the way, that child within us pushed down under the weight of adulthood.  During the holiday season, I think we have glimpses back to what we loved them.  Sometimes we can get clues from childhood photos.  When I found an old black and white of me, along with my two sisters and kids from the neighborhood, I realized there were three things that made me happy in that picture: being outside, my dog beside me, and my bike that was my pretend horse.

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Me at six years old to the right of our dog.

Years later, when I took my first intentional journey to Jekyll Island, Georgia, I realized I’d been drawn there because of the extensive bike trails.  Hopping on that bike to explore the island made me feel like I was the same age as that girl in the picture, riding the sandy roads of our farm.  It didn’t matter that at Jekyll Island I was fifty.  When you do the activities you love you can be transported to any age.

Because things we love can ground us, it’s important to have them all around. I think of how these can appeal to our five senses.  When we’re sick, we want that cozy blanket to swaddle us, the feel of the cloth settling our nervous system.  I have a tan-colored corduroy coat that immediately calms me.  Touching it reminds me of favorite clothing from childhood.  I’ll probably wear that coat until it’s threadbare and my family forces me to get rid of it.

The smell of lavender reminds me of the gentle care of my lymphedema massage therapist, how she uses lavender lotion, a healing balm.  When I’m having a tough day, slowing down and inhaling the scent of lavender calms me.

Tasting cinnamon feels like a special treat.  I put it on cereal, coffee, yogurt, and everything that I can.  It doesn’t even have to be paired with brown sugar to be satisfying.

Listening to certain songs immediately improves my mood, or makes me want to get up and dance, or elevates me to a state of praise and thanksgiving.  I also find that listening to silence anchors me in the present, mindful of what is before me.

I remember now how my eyes first encountered the Santa before I picked him up and made him mine.  My prayer for you as we prepare to enter the new year is that you will surround yourself with your favorite things, and take the time to do your favorite activities in 2018.  I hope you will make all those things yours.

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Jekyll Island bike path

How about you?

What are your favorite things?

Is your home filled with those things that are special to you?

What activities did you love as a child?  Are you doing them now?  If not, how could you start?