“Don’t long for ‘the good old days’ This is not wise.” King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 7:10
As we move into the holidays it is so easy for me to slip into the “good old days” syndrome. It even seems to make sense for me when I let my guard down to allow myself to feel that way. So many people have come and gone through my life. Their memories are all around me but the people who make up the memories are gone through the passing years. Death, life circumstances changing, and geographical distance are the culprits. My childhood in Santa Barbara was so idyllic looking back. Of course, I didn’t realize what a blessing it was until it was over with. “Don’t it always seem to go you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…” was how Joni Mitchell said it in her the early 70’s song, “Put up a Parking Lot.”
There we all lived together, close by. Even those who lived as far away as San Diego were only a car ride away. We gathered together for Thanksgiving, Christmas and sometimes Easter. I thought it would always remain the same as we were frozen in time. But, of course, it couldn’t, and it didn’t.
Then when we moved to Hawaii, I was a young teen. Soon my father bought the ranch on the Big Island that my married sisters and me as a single guy and then young married guy, all gravitated to during the holidays. (How young was I when I got married? Let’s just say the first Thanksgiving or so my wife and I sat at the kid's table!) My parents were the focal point that drew us together again as family during the holidays and our children, as young cousins continued the holiday joy in the beautiful setting of Puu Waa Waa Ranch of North Kona. That ended when my wife, Cindy, and I decided to move to Redmond, Washington to raise our four children. The joy of the holidays now resonated in our own home, and we experienced the pleasure again of watching our children experience the magic of the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Before we knew it, they grew up and then left the nest, each were married and soon scattered across the country to Washington, Tennessee and Texas. Think of the “Sunrise, Sunset” song from “Fiddler on The Roof” and you get the feeling.
As I am now in Florida now with Colleen, my wonderful wife of seven years, there are a couple triggers for me to fall into a melancholy mood during the holidays. #1 In just a few days my mother, whom I miss more every year would have been 99 years old if she had not died at 69 years old of breast cancer. #2 a few days after Christmas, my dad whom I had an up and down relationship with but do greatly miss, will now be gone for 5 years. Living in Florida near Colleen’s daughter’s family and we are thankful that we can celebrate the holidays with them. With all this being said, I admit I have been tempted to “long for the good old days,” the very thing the Bible has said is unwise. Sadness, loneliness and emptiness are real feelings I have struggled with. But if I surrender to this pull, I will miss out on all that God has for me to do now and during the rest of the time He has given me to live.
Having grown up in Hawaii, my thoughts turned to a movie I had seen a few years ago about the short and somewhat tragic life of Princess Kaiulani. Her life became intwined with the drama of the annexation of the Hawaiian kingdom by the United States in 1893. I even knew descendants of a couple of the key historical characters featured in the movie, Lorrin Thurston, who was a major player in the overthrow of Queen Liluokulani and Archie Cleghorn, the Scottish father of the Princess.
Kaiulani had lost her mother, Likelike, and was grieving that loss. She often turned to the queen, who was her aunt, for counsel and solace. Also, the future of the Hawaii that she had envisioned, where she would be eventually become queen, was fading quickly. Queen Liluokulani, who was now under house arrest, said something very profound to the princess. (Whether she actually said it I don’t know but it is a powerful statement that should resound with all of us who are tempted to wallow in the sweet memories of our past.) The queen said to the princess simply, “We must make room for the living.”
It appears that the young princess heeded these words from her wise aunt when she shifted her focus away from herself and decided to use the platform she had as princess of the Hawaiian Kingdom to fight for her people. Even as the annexation was moving forward she fought for universal suffrage and voting rights for all Hawaiian people. She would die at the young age of 23 but she fulfilled her life’s destiny and left a lasting legacy when she chose to “make room for the living.”
Today my “living” is my amazing wife, Colleen, her beautiful family in Florida, my “Boomer Zoomers” (guys I call each week on Zoom to do Bible study, my awesome kids and grandkids who are only a phone call or “Face Time” away, my new friends at Highpoint Church, my old friends I can’t forget or stop praying for from Washington, Kansas, Hawaii, Arizona and all over the country, my sister in California and the five guys I work alongside Monday through Friday.
I can’t forget the nonprofit leaders along the Treasure Coast here in Florida I have yet to serve through SHS Foundation and the business owners across the country I have yet to help through my customer analyst role at the new company I work for…Whew! I indeed need to “make room for the living” in however long the Lord has me here…because I have a destiny to fulfill and a legacy to leave. And by so doing I will honor the legacies of those I miss so much at this time of year.
Written by Jamie Bohnett. Contact the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org