In my next life, I want to be a neurologist.
The brain is so remarkable, so compartmentalized and yet so connected. Fortunately for most of us, it all just works seamlessly. After my dad had a stroke, I was fascinated (in a sad way) to see how specific parts of his brain and his memory had been affected while other parts seemed unaffected. Now I am fascinated (in a sad way) as I observe my MIL and her progressing dementia. I had tended to associate dementia primarily with memory loss, but now I realize that it also has to do with losing the ability to process information coming in. Not entirely independent from a loss of short term memory, but it seems different somehow.
I’ve often laughed that about 10 (15? 25?) years ago my own memory banks were full. For new information to come in and be stored, some old piece of information had to go out. BUT I COULDN’T PICK WHICH INFORMATION TO LOSE. I know I’m not alone here. I still remember long-disconnected phone numbers and long-moved from addresses. And, yes, I understand that some of it is due to the differences between short- and long-term memory. Still, I would really like to be able to remember what I walked into the kitchen for.
Christmas is a time filled with memories that you box up and pull out once a year. I scale back my holiday decorating every season, but I’m still not ready to part with many of the trinkets that stir up memories of loved ones and happy times. The small tree is decorated mainly with ornaments “about” the daughters, those collected on family vacations or, more recently, travels with the husband, and others that have been acquired in my adult, married life. It’s my Christmas Present tree. Still there are at least two large tubs of tree decorations that once hung on my parents’ and my grandparents’ trees. Maybe some year I will decorate a big tree again, or a Christmas Past tree, but more likely the tubs will just get hauled in and out of the attic once a year.
I have a memory bank that doesn’t actually have anything to do with Christmas, and yet this is one of the few times of year that this slot gets accessed. I still get a thrill when I look thru the mail and recognize the handwriting on a Christmas card. It just makes me happy to know, without looking at a return address, that this card came from the hand of someone I care about. Christmas cards may be a fading tradition. They certainly aren’t very environmentally friendly. It’s quicker and easier to send out an email greeting. Pre-printed address labels are convenient and more likely to be properly handled by the post office. Still, I address my cards by hand in my print-cursive hybrid scrawl that hasn’t changed since high school. It’s not what I think I’ll be remembered by in the future, but it might make somebody remember me now.