This past weekend, our family on my husband’s side gathered in Port Elizabeth for our nephew’s wedding in a celebration that extended over a few days.
Those of us arriving from out of town stayed in the same hotel, which provided many opportunities to see one another aside from the planned wedding festivities. Out of our usual setting, with none of the everyday activities and responsibilities to get caught up in, there really was no hindrance to spending quality time together.
Once again, I was reminded that in our busy lives, unhurried time, catching up with the people we know and love yet don’t always find the time to be with, is both a gift and a privilege.
It was on one of our walks to the nearby beach, when my youngest picked up two stones; one was long, the other heart shaped. When I asked him what made the stones so special that he was willing to take them home to Johannesburg, he said that he wanted to “remember” our trip: The long stone represented “the long car ride” and the heart-shaped stone how his heart was “full to bursting”.
For one so young, he found a way to remember our time together as a family. To hold onto his memories for safekeeping.
As my children grow older, I find myself being more intentional about our time together because I know their time under our roof is fleeting. One day, I hope they will be able to look back and remember their childhood with fondness, filled with many special moments.
For memories are powerful. They inform our view of the world we live in. Provide us with a sense of belonging. Give us purpose outside of our usual routines. They not only play a role in defining who we are today but also who we will become. There are many ways in which our memories influence both our present and our future.
Here are some of the ways we like to intentionally build relationship and create memories in our home, with enough room for individual preferences to be expressed while still remaining predictable enough for the younger members of our family to look forward to:
- As far as possible, we eat together every evening.
- We pray together at least once a week, usually after our evening meal.
- One Friday a month is a game night, with friends of all ages.
- At least one Saturday a month, we do something fun together outside the home – and each one gets a turn to choose the activity.
- If it’s your birthday, you can count on being awakened to the sound of “Happy Birthday” and your favourite sweet treat before breakfast.
While I have chosen to focus here on cultivating positive memories, we cannot forget that sadly, not all memories are worth keeping. There are some we will spend our lives trying to forget.
And as we grow older, even our positive memories fade, having been changed to a greater or lesser degree through the passage of time.
There are also those times we learn that no matter our age, our memories cannot always be trusted, which should come as no surprise given that we experience our lives through a personal and subjective “lens”.
Through it all, our God, the One who created us with the ability to make memories remains true, and the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13 v 8).
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