Origins of Joy: The Constant Weaving of New Beginnings from Cherished Memory

Origins of Joy: The Constant Weaving of New Beginnings from Cherished Memory

As the first baby in my family, my recorded memories go back to fourteen months of age (i.e. conversations and events that I could relate with eidetic detail to my astonished elders even decades later). This, and my ability to accurately ‘read’ people-and thereby determine my engagement with them- led to my family’s assertion that I was “an old soul”.

Today, those who know me might simply describe me as a “convener”; one who loves nothing more than bringing people together in a nurturing environment in which every light can shine, against a backdrop of music. Even in my work I cannot help but do the same and thus, I use music in my work, and it’s not unusual for me to end a long-running program with food and music for my participants.

For me, it’s about honoring my ‘fellow passengers to the grave’, to quote one of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens. As we are, as a species, “hard-wired for Connection”, I believe that we leave a bit of ourselves behind with every interaction. Therefore, it makes sense to be mindful of exactly what we’re leaving behind, as we move through our lives.

These “threads of Connection” were laid long ago by my grandfather Arthur Holmes, my first best friend and confidante.

From the day of my birth until the day of his death six years later, ‘Grandfather Arthur’ and I were inseparable, a dynamic duo that could be seen weekly in Boston’s Haymarket Square, a teeming multicultural ‘foodie’ metropolis over which I reigned, a tiny laughing girl perched upon the broad throne of her best friend’s shoulders, surveying her noisy, multi-lingual, richly-scented, and bustling domain.

From the moment that I could safely perch on Grandfather’s shoulders, we’d head to ‘The Big Market’ each late Friday afternoon, where I would immerse myself in the tantalizing scents of foods from around the world and, as if amplified by the colors of the setting sun, the sound of laughter and hundreds of animated conversations, all held simultaneously in a variety of languages.

A kind and gregarious man, Grandfather Arthur seemed to know everyone, from the various Italian, German, and Greek vendors to our fellow native Bostonian customers that we’d encounter along the way.

As we made our way through the throng, our arrival was met with raucous shouts of greeting, and it soon became a common occurrence for each vendor to reach up and pop some exotic tidbit into my mouth, “to see what the baby won’t eat”. To their general delight, the answer was “nothing”, as I smacked my lips in ecstasy over calamari, hot Italian sausages, and stuffed grape leaves, in equal measure. My favorite, to everyone’s surprise was Limburger cheese, a pungent German delicacy that I’d affectionately referred to as “Stinking cheese”.

So once again- as I’ve done every November and December of my adult life, I found myself preparing the annual holiday feast of foods that reflect those wonderful days at Haymarket square, and was as ever, transported back to those magical trips with my grandfather and the people of so many cultures who’ve informed every step of my journey since. In their loving memory, I decorated my home and prepared to embrace my friends and family of various cultures, forever grateful for those convivial threads of Food, Music, Love, Culture, and Beauty that they’d woven into my life.

And, as the holiday season rollicked to its’ usual end and I began to return my favorite objects to Storage, I would lovingly replay each moment of every tools’ service, and the delight that annually results from their role in the creation of beautiful tables laden with favorite dishes.  With the close of each storage container, I sent up a general prayer of thanks to every soul of every ‘walk of life’ and culture who’d collectively built the ‘loom’ from which all that I am-and all that I do is woven today, rich in vibrant ‘threads’ of Exploration, Joy, Hope, Humor, Connection, Discovery, and above all, Love.

May this new year bring our world-and all upon it- more of the same.


January, 2017
Newton Massachusetts


P.S. We’d love to hear your ‘thread stories’ of favorite and formative events.


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