One of the hardiest things about memories is some haunt me. However, I read Michael Provosts post on Facebook and rethought what I am doing. Michael is an amazing photographer that I follow on Facebook. Due to time difference, he often posts his awesome pictures just before I go to work. He includes quotes with his beautiful pictures. I feel so uplifted and encouraged. He posted why he does what he does and gave me permission to share his thoughts. I think the thing I came away thinking about is the importance of creating new beautiful memories to overwrite the old disturbing ones. I am noticing that the more lovely memories I stuff in my head there is less room for the ugly memories to push in. Today I was sitting with my sister and finishing her book cover for her next book. I had fun. I baked bread which I do almost every year. So I am adding new things to old ones. Enjoyed lovely time with family and friends this week. Creating beautiful memories goes a long way to making Christmas a beautiful time of year.
My Dear Friends,
A Personal Christmas Story or Why I Do What I Do....
When I was a very young boy I had a dog named "Sport". Sport was a mix of so many different breeds that it was impossible to know what kind of dog he was. Basically, he was a raggedy little mutt that followed me home one day. To sum up a description, he was small, he was light brown, he had one white-eye and one brown-eye, and I loved him very, very much. Once I convinced my parents to let me keep him and got him moved into our house, he expressed his gratitude to me by following me everywhere. Our relationship was very basic: I fed Sport his food and walked him. In return he licked my face, jumped all over me, played with me, and happily did all the tricks I taught him. We were inseparable, Sport and I. He was my best friend. He would even stop and pose for me when I took pictures of him with my toy camera. He loved it when I took his picture.
At any rate, it was during this period of my life that I heard tell of a legend that on Christmas Eve a miracle occurs. The miracle being that at the stroke of midnight all animals can talk. Back then I believed in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns, Trolls and pretty much anything else, so this seemed entirely plausible to me. Also, at the time, along with my toy camera, I had a small children's tape-recorder. So one day I was struck with the idea that I would try my darndest to stay awake until midnight on Christmas Eve, sit in my room with Sport, and when the moment of the wondrous miracle occurred, I would record the voice of my beloved dog when he talked to me.
So Christmas Eve arrived. I set everything up, got into my pyjamas, and sat on the bed with Sport. My bedtime was 8:00pm. I tried as hard as I could not to fall asleep. I sang songs to myself. I fought pirates and ghosts with my toy sword. I talked to Sport. I tried everything I could possibly think of to stay awake, but to no avail. I think I lasted until about 8:20pm.
The next morning was. of course, Christmas Day, and when I woke up I forgot all about the fact that I'd missed the miracle. I ran like a maniac downstairs and tore open all of my presents. After a few hours of playing with my new toys, I remembered that I had fallen asleep and missed the midnight miracle of Sport talking. So I figured, well, maybe I'll do it next year. I went back up to my room and my toy tape-recorder was sitting on my dresser where I had left it. But what was strange was that the tape that I had put inside of it was sitting on top of the recorder. So I put the tape in and I pushed "Play". Suddenly, in a very low gruff voice I heard the words, "Merry Christmas, Michael." Now, what had actually occurred was that my father had sneaked into my room and recorded those words on the tape, but I didn't know the why's or the wherefores of it. I didn't think in those terms back then. At that moment, at that time, I believed that I had somehow actually recorded the miracle of my dog speaking to me at midnight on Christmas Eve!
I remember running down the stairs with the tape recorder and playing it for my parents. I remember how amazed I was that Sport had actually talked to me. The miracle had happened! I remember playing the recording to all of my friends. In fact, I played it for anyone who would listen. There were the skeptics of course, but my belief that it was the voice of my beloved dog was unshakable. After all, I had it on tape. I had recorded and preserved it for all to hear.
It was about four-months after that. I was taking Sport for a walk just after it had stopped raining, and he saw a cat on the other side of the street. He started to run after the cat. A car was coming down the street and couldn't stop in time. And Sport was gone. I was of course devastated to have lost my best friend. For days afterwards I was inconsolable. My parents tried their very best to comfort me, but it didn't help. I would sit in my room and play the recording of what I believed to be Sport's voice over and over. The fact that I believed I had preserved a recording of his voice made me feel closer to him. It helped me to get through the loss.
I have no recollection of the toys I got that Christmas morning, but I kept that tape for many, many years. Even after I came to the realization that there was no way a dog could have spoken into a tape recorder and that in fact it WAS my father's voice, I still kept the tape. Why did I keep it? I kept it for the memory of Sport. I kept it for the young boy who believed in the miracle, and was comforted by it when he had lost his best friend. The boy who believed in the magic and the wonder of Christmas. And when I lost my parents, I kept it because it was a recording of the voice of my father. It made me feel closer to him. Unfortunately, the day arrived when I put the tape into the player and nothing happened. They just didn't build those old cassette tapes to last back then. Despite my best efforts the recording was gone forever.
I write of this now because Christmas is a time of memories, both old and new. Because I realize that through most of the days of my existence, by one method or another, I have been recording the times and the moments that make up the journey that is my life. And in turn, I have shared them with my friends. I'm not exactly sure when or how it started, perhaps it was the recording of Sport, but it became my passion at a very early age, and remains so to this very day. Thankfully, I have been blessed with the gift and the means to pursue that passion. And within the images that I capture, I preserve the memories of the moments, the times, and the places that have touched me. I also believe that in many of those same images I have touched and preserved the spirits of the souls who I have loved, who have loved me, and who have shared the precious moments of my life. For one reason or another, a good many of those souls are no longer here, so those photographs serve to bring back the memories of the love and the warmth that I shared with them. They comfort me and they make me feel closer to them. They remind me of the magic and the wonder of the moments that we shared.
My dear friends, I thank you for the grace, the warmth, and the light that is your friendship. Thank you for your most generous and kind words that reflect the beautiful, radiant light that is you. Your words that never cease to inspire and embolden the heart of this man journeying upon the path of his destiny. Thank you for allowing me to share the moments of my life with you. It is my sincere Christmas wish that your hearts be filled with warmth and love at this very special time of year. This Christmas, may you write new memories in the pages of the book that is your life. May those memories be recorded and preserved in your hearts as forever golden. And whether they be with you in body or in spirit, may you be surrounded by the love and comfort of those who are most precious to you. May you be filled with the joy of the season. And for a moment perhaps....just perhaps.....may you be filled with the magic and the wonder of it all.
Merry Christmas and God Bless You.