Sweet Anticipation in making family memories

Growing up, having to wait for things was pure agony. I could hardly stand the feverish anticipation of Christmas, to finally discover what was wrapped in those beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. It wasn’t just the agonizing wait for holidays that plagued me, it was any highly looked forward to event – like the starting of school or the yearning for a boy to call. It really was pure torture for me. Anticipation was not fun for me.

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”  ― Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

Actress Marilu Henner is gifted with Highly Superior Autographical Memory (HSAM), which basically means she has perfect recall of every single detail of her life. I don’t know about you, but there are lots of things I am glad to forget!  Well, Ms. Henner wrote a book, Total Memory Makeover: Uncover Your Past, Take Charge of Your Future, where she shares the ways we can all improve our memory and remember better.

One of Marliu’s father favorite saying was, “There are three parts to every event: anticipation, participation and recollection, and the greatest of these is recollection.” She states that the more engaged we are with each part, the better our remembrance and the stronger the memory.

Grandmother Bliss

My first and only grandchild is arriving for the holidays in 3 days! I haven’t seen her since she was born last November, and my husband hasn’t even met her yet. To say that we are excited is an extreme understatement.

Thinking about this anticipation and Marilu’s idea of using anticipation to create stronger memories, has got me thinking of ways to leverage this anticipation into making some forever memories.

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” 
― A. A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

I came up with 5 ways that we can use anticipation for this holiday season, to create  sweet memories, that will last a lifetime.

  1. Think of anticipation as extended excitement, rather than painful waiting. Our attitudes are everything, we can flip our thinking, we can make anticipation fun and part of the event, rather than an endurance test.
  2. Slow it down. Don’t hurry, rush or push the event. Savor each day leading up to the looked forward event by creating something to check off or mark the progress. For example, today we bought a car seat for when our granddaughter arrives. Placing it in the car, looking up correct installation information, helps me feel excitement for the day when she will be riding home from the airport to our home.
  3. Share the anticipation and the excitement with others. Discuss, plan, and embrace the looked forward to event with family and others involved. Sharing multiplies the excitement, but it also helps carry the weight of anticipation. Family memories are created when shared.
  4. Make sensory rich plans. Instead of just planning to make cookies for the holidays – imagine the aroma of them baking in the oven, feel the textures of the dough between your fingers, think of the tastes of the cookies on your tongue. Using our senses adds to making our memories fuller, richer and easier to recall afterwards and heighten our enjoyment in anticipating the event.
  5. Don’t pack on the worries. Anticipation’s excitement and joy can quickly become a nightmare if we allow that time to be swallowed up in useless worries, what-if scenarios and other negative stealers-of-joy thinking. Just say “no” to these thieves of happiness. Healthy concern and thoughtful planning are not the same as catastrophe-creating and needless fretting. 

“Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.” 
― Nicholas Sparks, Three Weeks With My Brother