The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Monday, April 16, 2007

Anniversaries are a humbug

by Andrew Tibbetts

I’m not an anniversaries kind of person. I can’t think of anything I celebrate. I joke that I celebrate the loss of my virginity each year but it isn’t true. I claim to read T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets every spring, but honestly, I did tha
t twice. I think human beings’ preoccupation with the past is unnatural. Animals celebrate nothing -- it’s all about today! I’m beastly in that regard. I wake up each day and snuffle around for food, power, companionship, sex. The fact that I had any of those things on some day in the past is useless to me now so why clog the present moment with commemoration.

Also, I’m not fond of mementos. I don’t get a
ttached to objects. I can love a person and toss the gift they gave me in the garbage without another thought. My reverence is for their giving not their gift. There’s no connection for me. And, yet I see other people do these weird things like save their old brownie badges, keep an ugly old lamp because it used to belong to their grandmother, cry when Aunt Sara’s toilet seat cover shrinks in the laundry. The objects have somehow taken on the value of the person. To devalue the object is to somehow devalue the person who once gave/owned/touched the object.

People’s calendars clutter with sentiment in similar ways. This is the day my father died. This is day my oldest lost his first tooth. This is the day Aunt Sara came out of her coma. The dates become mementos. For me, I’ll thin
k of Aunt Sara when I think of her. I believe the quality of my connection to her, what I learned from her, what I appreciated about her, what changed in me through knowing her, is not lessened because it isn’t fastened to a time or a doodad. Do people worry that they won’t have enough spontaneous and naturally occurring reverence?

People do not handle the transience of existence well. The idea that someone may die and be forgotten appals us. If it happens to Aunt Sara, it might happen to me. So we take a bunch of daisies to her grave every June the somethingth and we stretch her shrunken tacky Phentex cover across our toilet seat. But seriously, face it; there is nothing we can do to stop time’s obliterating tread. We’ll be gone ourselves soon enough. The fact is that Aunt Sara will dissolve into nothing along with everything she touched and not a soul alive will remember her, let alone the day she won the pie-baking award. In my personal opinion that only makes her the more beautiful. We are all of us rare and one of a kind and 'don’t miss your only chance to see this' special. The time we have with each other is now. And it’s precious.


Blogger tamara said...

I'm guilty of holding onto a memento or two or four, but I try to cull regularly (i.e., if I can't remember what it's for, it must go..). But I think every gay kid should have (and keep) that 'camp-out' patch. Is that a Boy Scouts patch?

Mon Apr 16, 12:42:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Colin said...

I think we're of like minds on the subject of anniversaries and hanging on to stuff Andrew. Thanks for sharing.

Mon Apr 16, 01:06:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

For the last few years, I've been giving my kids all those things I couldn't bear to part with before: boxes of their school papers, grandma's grapefruit dishes, an Austrian tea set, my father's draft card from the Second World War...on and on and on. They're the stewards of family history now. They can lie awake at night worrying about fires and floods.

Mon Apr 16, 01:44:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Your post has an inspiring message, Andrew. Thank you.

Mon Apr 16, 02:11:00 pm GMT-4  

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