One of my earliest memories is watching my mother bake a pie. She would take the leftover pastry, cover it with cinnamon and brown sugar, roll it up and bake it. It tasted divine.
Christmas baking is somewhat of a tradition in my family. We bake because it reminds us of our childhood. It’s how we show our family and friends that we love them. My French-Canadian mother made tourtières , so I do too. I relive the days of rolling circle after circle of pastry, and stirring and seasoning the huge pot of meat simmering on the stove. Good memories.
Both of my parents are now gone, but their love remains in my memories and our traditions.
For years, I couldn’t see how much my parents loved me. I’d remember falling asleep on my father’s lap every night, my face squashed into his neck, but I’d also remember the sting of his hurtful words. I’d remember my mother beaming with pride at my successes in my after school French lessons, but I’d also remember her lack of physical affection.
As I got older, I started to recognize all that my parents had done for me. I knew that my childhood was pretty darn good, compared to so many others. But my acceptance of this fact was almost condescending. I would say that they did the best they could, without saying that what they did was enough. I couldn’t overlook the mistakes that every parent makes. I couldn’t accept their humanness. And I didn’t even realize I was doing it.
One day, I was, once again, lamenting the fact that my mother had never told me that she loved me. Once again, I felt like I had been cheated. And then I found some letters.
As I was rummaging through an old trunk, I came across a stack of letters from my parents that I had saved. Before the internet and free long distance, we wrote letters. And since I left our small town at the age of 18, I have quite a collection.
The letters talk of how much they miss me. How happy they are that I am doing well. They ask me to write again soon. They ask me to tell them about my life. How they want only the best for me. How they love me. Let me repeat that. How they love me. Every last letter, from both my mom and dad, was signed with love and xoxo’s. Every one. Even as my dad found it more and more difficult to physically write, he did it anyway. And in my misery, I didn’t notice. I chose to believe a different reality.
That day, I woke up. I experienced a paradigm shift. Not only did I truly understand the depth of their love, but I felt a deep and complete love for them. No conditions. The same as their love for me had always been.
Our outlook on life and love is ours for the choosing. Happiness. Fulfillment. Joy. They are ours for the taking. There is so much goodness out there, if only we would choose to see it. Share it. Live it. See it in ourselves and others. This life really can be glorious, if we could only see that it already is.