Yesterday as I was reminiscing with my mother about my childhood holidays, she informed me that my recollection of the holidays were not exactly as I had remembered them. It seemed that my memories about how my grandmother from Germany spent every Christmas with us were wrong. When I was told that she was not there every year, my first reaction was that my mother had no idea what she was talking about, followed by a sadness on how she had forgotten such a wonderful time in our lives. It irritated me until I admitted to myself that perhaps Mom’s memories might be more accurate than mine. This is because I reminded myself how often my son and I remembered things differently about earlier times in his life. It made sense to believe Mom might be right, and if so, I wondered how many other memories had I held on to which were distorted and maybe only splinters of what really happened in my past.
With a sense of doubt, I was concerned about if I then had created my adult life around false memories of a child, memories of my heart and not my head. Taking time to reflect, I realized I may have been exaggerating my happier times in life until I decided memories of the heart are the memories that should be carried forward in life. Because if a moment in time can create a long lasting effect, it is a very good thing to build a life around. Not only did I feel a sense of relief, but was much happier knowing that my emotions kept, and will continue to keep, the happy images of my past alive in my heart.
Looking back, I remembered how my mother made birthdays very special. Growing up, we woke up to presents wrapped and waiting for us, made to feel like the King of the Day, chose the menu for dinner, and enjoyed a favorite cake with the family, and knew a birthday party with friends was planned for the weekend. I must have remembered that fondly because not only did I bring this celebration into my adult life, I upped it. Somewhere along the line, I started to see birthdays as true holy-days (holidays!) for an individual. In my household, I added how we decorate the different rooms and play songs throughout the day to play celebrating this special day.
Other memories reminded me of the little things in life including when my parents took us to movies, read us books, and played with us. Those memories took hold because I became that sort of parent too. When my son was younger and went to the movies, I would make sure we had movie themed candy when seeing movies like Willy Wonka or Harry Potter. I would make him scrambled eggs with green food dye and a slice of ham as I read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham. Memories of Dad playing whiffle ball on the front lawn with the neighborhood kids and trying my skateboard still make me smile, with the hope that my son will have memories of me or his dad playing with him as part of his childhood memories. I now understand that my misguided memories had not mislead me, they simply guided me in a better direction years later.
By allowing my memories to offer me emotions of pleasure, I can trust that those emotions of joy and love triggered something in me now, at this time, for a reason. Maybe as times way of reminding us that happiness can never be forgotten. I will keep the good memories coming even if time made them better because a good memory deserves a long-lasting thought.