Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Time Capsule

I imagine it might seem odd for me to say, since I have often proclaimed my distaste for marking occasions, that I happen to be a lover of history -- world history, American history and even personal/family history. I'm fascinated by the real benchmarks of time: a newspaper from 1938; a picture of my parents as teenagers; my hand to the wall of the tower of London; an old film that captures life on a regular day in 1906 . . .

But sometimes -- maybe most of the time -- the little things can be most profound. For instance, every year at this time, I get to shake hands with myself from the year before.

Always, around the end of November, I open up our outdoor Christmas decorations. And when I do, I get to do a kind of personal archaeology: I get to deduce what mood I was in when I packed up; where my head was at that freezing, rather gloomy time. (Were things tossed into the boxes and bags, or was everything neatly wrapped up and placed into careful categories?) What I get to see is how much "Chris 2010" was thinking about "Chris 2011."

The Spirit of Christmas Past and Ebby
Sometimes it is clear that I was very concerned with my future self and with keeping his life as simple as possible during the busy holiday season. At other times, it's clear that the "me" of the past was wrapped up in thoughts of his own present.

Each after-Christmas pack-up creates a kind of time capsule in my personal history.

Very often, I'll stop to mark a particular moment (usually a most mundane moment; like cutting the grass) and I'll mention, to myself, that this particular moment (a moment that is everything to me as I am experiencing it) will, someday, be completely lost. And so it usually goes.

But, pack a mundane moment into a plastic box and open it a year later, and the whole game changes a little.

No comments:

Post a Comment