The underpants in the hire van.

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It was my mother’s 80th birthday recently and we went out for a family meal. We are lucky enough to be close and have had many happy family holidays together. As the evening progressed we were laughing and talking about some of our earlier memories, childhood, holidays, school etc. and as we each recounted tales and laughed it struck me that many of our memories were based on things that had at first gone wrong but had eventually turned out right and in doing so created a very happy memory. Like when we went to Orlando, Florida and my husband, who was supposed to drive forgot his licence. Fortunately I had remembered mine but had intended to only be a backup driver. It took me half an hour to find out how to reverse the small mini bus we had hired to take us all and when I eventually did about half a dozen other British people came running out their cars to ask me to show them. We had all been sitting struggling with the same thing and yet not one of us had gone to ask for help. Typical of the sort of embarrassment that comes with believing as an adult you should really know something and do not wish to admit you don’t for fear of ridicule. On another visit despite booking with an apparently reputable travel agent we ended up with a van that the chap renting it out had been living in, his undergarments were still under seats and in the parcel shelf. Of course he had not charged the price our travel agent had said and was really apologetic. We ended up with his dodgy van because we felt really sorry for him and our holiday memory was made because of all the bits that fell off including the steps to let you step down, which disappeared as I stepped out. I got great extra exercise climbing in to and out of the minivan thereafter!

On a trip to Italy we had a stopover in Pisa before moving on to our rented villa. The waiters in the little restaurants were very friendly and helpful they laughed at my pronunciation of Pinot Grigio wine and jokingly withheld it encouraging me to copy their correct pronunciation. They encouraged us to try local sea food dishes and I had to hide the baby squid in a napkin, in order not
to offend them, as I simply couldn’t bring myself to eat them, whilst my husband chomped happily away. They gave my daughters so much extra ice cream that they could barely move after eating. They were charming, friendly, attentive and kind and everything they did was done affectionately and now I cannot look at a bottle of Pinot Grigio without fondly thinking of them and that wonderful holiday. Our whole holiday in Italy held  many happy memories for us all .One of my daughters recollected us walking home from a local restaurant to our villa, in our bare feet, as our high heels hurt too much and seeing hundreds of fireflies and her  thinking she was seeing stars and about to faint! Then the sheer magical experience of realising what it was and walking home with them all around her, her face lit up at the beautiful memory .The little town of Reggello Italy where the local café owners made us pasta when they were actually closed, as we had arrived tired and hot, despite having taken several wrong routes, still too early to gain access to our villa. They took one look at our faces as they explained that meal times were over and then instantly decided they would offer us something. All kitchen staff had gone home so the old proprietor sent her equally old husband in to the kitchen and soon the smell of pasta and pesto filled the air and he brought us all steaming hot plates full of it to the table, whilst she got cold drinks from the fridge.They couldn’t speak much English and our Italian was quite limited but we have never forgotten their kindness and that was quite simply the best pasta and pesto we have ever tasted.

As each of us at the dinner table told our memories I became very aware that the pattern of those memories was one of sharing, pulling together and laughing even when things were going wrong. After all what else could we do but deal with each situation with humour or else ruin our holiday. Obviously we had all decided to make them part of the holiday and for us it appears to have worked. Our memories were also filled with the people we had met, their idiosyncrasies and kindnesses. Our memories though were not just of the past. We each talked about funny experiences we had had that week even that day and my daughter, who recently got engaged discussed her wedding plans. These memories and discussions sustain us when life is hectic or stressful. We can take ourselves away to visit a happier memory, if just for a brief recharge before facing whatever it is we need to face that day. None of the memories would be there though if we had not chosen to act. To decide where we wanted to go and what we hoped to experience. For us it was to have a family holiday and fun. For others it might be something more exotic but no memories are ever made without action being required.

Too often though I think people can sit and recall times gone by when they were happier or were more active and that is sad. Life changes and we need to be able to change with it. My family is older now and going on their own holidays. That doesn’t mean that we will not have memories to share, we just need to go and make our own then come back and share them with each other. We each need to seek out our own adventures but they will not usually come knocking on the front door. To have memories to look back on fondly we need to be out creating them today. This doesn’t mean that we have to go on holidays all the time memories can be created daily in the most ordinary activities.My Mum has not been on a holiday for years, as she will not leave her dogs but each day she goes out on an adventure with them to meet people when walking and comes back and tells us funny stories and experiences.

Our lives are all made richer by the experiences that we have it just depends upon how you choose to look at them but no
experience comes from sitting at home and not interacting with life and others. Sometimes we need to push ourselves out the door, to join a club or do whatever we need to do to interact with others and create laughter and fun. We also need to remember to include those who perhaps can no longer get out and about whether it is family member, a friend or even just a neighbour anyone we know that could benefit from a trip out and a memory made. If we think about them as well as ourselves we are actually enriching our own lives and not just theirs.So I guess my wish today, is for us all to get off our backsides and get out and act.Start creating tomorrow’s stories today and to see how much better we all feel for doing it.

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