Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creating Happy Childhood Memories For My Children (And Me!)

When I was about 10 years old I was invited to my eldest cousin's wedding. Prior to that, my siblings and I had been left home with Grandma Alice while my parents attended all the "big people" events without children. Don't get me wrong, we had lots of fun with Grandma Alice.... But, I will never forget attending that wedding. I remember the dress I wore. I remember the place -- The historic Chester Town Hall. I remember the tables of food set up around the perimeter of the dance floor. And, watching the adults dance from the balcony. That was my coming-of-age wedding.

Fast forward 27 years: I found myself watching another wedding from a completely different perspective. I remember standing to one side of the dance floor. I remember the dress I was wearing and the feeling of my husband's hand holding mine. I was watching some 20 children making a collective wish for the new bride and groom and blowing out the candles on an elegant wedding cake. It was my wedding cake and my wedding! And, we were creating happy childhood memories not just for ourselves but for all those children. My new husband and I made a conscious decision to invite all of our adult guests along and all of their children (no age restrictions). I wanted to give all of our little cousins and friend's children their coming-of-age-wedding memory. We invited them to this big event in our life, not so that they would remember us -- though I can still picture cousin Barney and his wife, Theresa, cutting their wedding cake together in that great hall -- but rather to remember their first wedding in a fun and fond way. We catered to the 45 children in attendance, giving them their own dinner- and dessert-buffets as well as an important role in our wedding... cutting the cake (along with the wish making). I think they all had fun. I hope they all have a great memory of it.

These days, there's one thing sure to bring a smile to my face... the recollection of a fond and happy childhood memory. Such memories pop up seemingly out of nowhere though, more likely, they are triggered by some glimpse of the past. My husband and I do a lot of things with the intention of creating fun for now and fond childhood memories for later. The trampoline in the basement. The amazing tree house in the backyard. Camping with our cousins. And, more. While I'm not sure all of our efforts will be as fondly remembered as we hope, I know that at least some of them will take hold and provide my old soul and the boys some very warm and fuzzy feelings of love and laughter later on in their lives. I know there are times we create some bad memories for our kids given the occasionally crazy life that we're living, but creating a lifetime of happy memories for my children is a conscious decision I make every day of their lives.

Today, we're going to see Santa Claus at Each of my children will also get to select one special new ornament for our Christmas tree... one of our budding Christmas traditions. Then, we'll come home and decorate the tree together -- each child ceremoniously placing their special ornament on the tree. Just thinking about decorating the tree with my kids is bringing back warm memories of Christmas' past where my siblings and I each got a handful of tinsel and the chance to use own method of applying it -- strand-by-strand, tossing or clumping -- to our family Christmas tree.

Make some happy childhood memories for your kids today!

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