Appreciation Days

026Yesterday, we went to the local Christmas tree farm to cut our trees (yes, plural) for the holiday season.  It’s a small place, family run and friendly, and since it’s well off the main drags through the county, gets less traffic than the larger, more commercial places.  I’ve been going there since I moved to California in 1985.  That would make this the 29th year in a row.

And it will be the last time.  Allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment.

This tradition lasted through my first marriage and has become a treasured part of my second.  My mother, now gone for seven years, came along once and laughed like crazy when she fell on her butt and slid down the muddy rain-slicked slope.  The grandfather who ran the place back then asked about her every year after that.  White firs and cedars can generate new trees from their base if a crown of branches is left behind, and I know I’ve cut from the same base tree more than once – maybe more than twice in a couple of cases.  I’ve watched the people running it change from the grandparents to the parents (my age) to their children, and yesterday, those children’s children were helping too.

This place has a lot of memories for me.  It’s that kind of place, the kind that parents come to as newlyweds, bring their growing children to, and then the children come back when they marry and have kids of their own.  It withstands the test of time.

For me, it was the last time.011

And I’m facing this a lot recently.  My husband and I are moving in a few months, not only off the ranch but out of state on to a much smaller property.  And because of this, we’ve been facing lots of ‘lasts’.  The last season swimming in our wonderful pool.  The last Thanksgiving in this house.  Now, the last Christmas with its craze of decorations and two trees.  The last fall, with its gorgeous sunsets and low sunshine casting light across the stone floors.  The last time we’ll see the gardens in full bloom, the last crops of our fruit, the last time I’ll cut roses to brighten the house.

In the midst of this series of ‘lasts’, I’ve realized what a blessing it is to be able to recognize them, take a moment to savor the experience, and give thanks for it.  Too often, we rush through life without appreciation of what we have around us.  And none of us know if we’ll be here the next time that particular experience comes around.  And yet we rush by without savoring, secure in our belief that we will pass this same way again, and next time, we promise ourselves, we’ll take time to appreciate the little things around us.

How do you celebrate and appreciate the little things?  Is it part of your daily life, or have you fallen into the trap of rushing by without seeing or experiencing what’s around you?  Given a choice, what would you do differently?

I’m voting for appreciate days – every day!  Enjoy all the little things!