My daughter recently commented that many people don’t retain early childhood memories before the age of seven. I had to dispute this, as I remember 4 and 5 quite clearly: Our quaint two-story house with a giant walnut tree in the backyard; taking the bus to kindergarten; and of course that cute little brown haired boy, Troy, who loved chasing me around the playground. I remember praying with my mother at the kitchen table and playing with my little sister in the playroom. I remember being happy.
As an adult, I know that time was difficult for my parents. We had moved back to Washington from California. My Dad was working odd jobs to make ends meet while he waited to figure out what the Lord wanted Him to do next. We had little money, but we had love and lots of walnuts.
It’s odd that I would have so many happy memories with my family during such stressful circumstances. I’m beginning to realize that making lasting memories doesn’t depend so much on the ideal conditions, but more on the intentional efforts that parents make to connect to their kids. In fact, studies show that children who are asked a lot of questions about their personal experiences and feelings by their mothers are more likely to have early memories.
Making Lasting Memories
Share Your Stories: When I was a child my parents often recounted their love story for us. We were captivated by the details. My Dad in his ripped jeans and my mom in her classy dresses. All of the sudden I could picture my Mom and Dad as college students. As they told their story their eyes would twinkle. They would laugh and hold hands. Sharing personal stories help our children, and even extended family, to get to know us in a more intimate way.
Today, my husband and I make an effort to share stories with our kids. Our teenage shenanigans, our college romance, and even the stories of our parents. The room gets quiet whenever someone says: “Tell us about the time…” and we begin again to intentionally share our family legacy.
Music: One of my favorite things at Christmastime is the music. Not Wham or Mannheim Steamroller (Why must Pandora torture me?!), but old Christmas music. My mom played three or four records during the Christmas season, and those songs are a familiar soundtrack to my childhood memories. The music takes me right back to the house we grew up in and makes me feel happy and content. It reminds me of Christmases past.
Music was a big part of Michael’s life growing up as well. His Grandmother, Mother and Aunt played the piano and Michael plays the guitar. Now our children are learning to play the piano, and all those hours of practice will be a soundtrack to their childhood. Music brings so much joy and often cements our memories.
Traditions: Last year I wrote a post about creating family traditions. Lasting memories often develop from simple traditions such as brunch on Christmas morning—one of our favorites. Most recently our church added a tradition of taking communion together each Sunday (we previously did so once a month). We love taking the time to pray together as a family and remember what Christ has done for us. It has become a meaningful part of our worship and our time together as a family.
Making lasting memories with your family has to be intentional. What’s important to you? What are the values you want to pass on to your children? The most wonderful memories are made when we honor one another above ourselves. It’s then that we see Christ through the lives of one another, and the imprint of Christ is a memory that will last.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. (Luke 6:31 NLT)
How are you making lasting memories with your family?