Memories are such a funny thing. They can bring back a moment in time in a rush and they can be accessed through the strangest triggers. Humans seem pre-disposed to purposeful memory making in the form of physical objects: scrap-books, heirlooms and keepsakes. And yet some of the best memories are just that: memories of times, places and people that, for some reason, remain firmly lodged in our brains.
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5 Simple and effective memory making ideas that you can start today
I recently read a great article about Memory Making Family Activities in Parenting Magazine. Some of the ideas were so simple, I started thinking about the things that we do in our everyday life that are making beautiful memories. I’ve popped my list of the top 5 things you can do TODAY to start making memories:
1. Be spontaneous for memory making
Our lives are full of schedules and if we spend too much time doing the same thing over and over, our brains get stuck in the groove of predictability. Sometimes the thing to do is shake things up a little bit. The very unpredictability of this ruse is what makes the brain jump out of its rut and allows the experience to become a memory. When my brothers and I were little, my parent’s restaurant took up a lot of time. But every now and again, my dad would come home from work and my parents would announce that we were going to a hotel to stay overnight. We’d bundle into the car in our pj’s, swim in the hotel pool & watch tv late at night. I remember this vividly all these many years later.
Here are Three Great Spontaneous Memory Makers to do with your family (Psst! You don’t need kids to do this!):
- Go out for ice-cream after the pj’s are on.
- Start an impromptu game of ‘It’ with your kids/partner when they’re not expecting it
- Put off bedtime in favour of a rousing game of Uno (or whatever your favourite card game is).
2. remember for memory making
Make it a point to talk about the other people in your life, especially those you don’t see on a regular basis. It’s so much fun to laugh together remembering funny things that your family and friends might do or say. In my dad’s family, there is a story about his grandmother who used to take unused jars of jam or salt & pepper packets from their table in restaurants so that she could use them at home. Now, whenever anyone in our family takes napkins from the coffee shop or little jars of Tiptree jam from a restaurant, it’s part of a wider family joke called ‘Pulling a Grandma Josie’.
Remembering the people who are part of our lives, even if we’ve never met them, connects us to a wider community. This community connection is rapidly being identified by scientists as vital to good health and longevity. So keep the connections alive!
3. tell stories for memory making
The stories of our lives are what connect us to each other and to everyone else’s stories. I vividly remember my mom telling us stories about her childhood when we were children. There was the story about burying her sweets under the blackberry bushes (only to find that her sister had dug them up and eaten them). Also memorable were the stories of turning the neighbourhood lake polka-dot by throwing hundreds of crab-apples in the water. Or my favourite, the story of HER grandfather taking her fishing when she was 7 years old. She caught 8 bullheads and showed up the neighbourhood boys with her fishing prowess.
Obviously I come from a family of story-tellers and have continued the tradition in my own house. Between my husband and I, we have a repetoire of stories from our childhood that we have told Minnie-Sue from very early on. Even some of her friends know the ‘characters’ in our stories. On top of that, Mr UK Yankee is extremely gifted at weaving fictional tales involving motor-cycling cats and naughty crocodiles. Through these stories, he sent Minnie-Sue off to sleep, dreaming of pie-scoffing pussy cats and constipated crocodiles (I am seriously not making this up!).
It is through telling our stories between generations that we keep our own history alive. Think of all the cultures that have kept their traditions and history alive through story-telling. Now follow their lead…!
4. include your wider tribe in memory making
Everybody remembers things differently. Few things are funnier than hearing a story told from the perspective of the different people who were part of it.
A FUN GAME
When you are gathered together with friends or family, get everybody to recount their memory of a specific event. Chances are pretty good that viewpoints will differ and much hilarity will ensue.
Get everybody to share their favourite memory of a particular person or event. You might learn something new about a loved one! And remembering together has been shown to improve mental wellbeing (See Danish Hygge).
Memory making is so much fun when you are with people you love!
5. create traditions for memory making
I love having something to look forward to. My ‘Planning Gene’ is something that was definitely passed down on my maternal side. My grandma, my mom and The Aunts all have this gene to a greater or lesser degree. But I won’t apologise for it because when you plan something, you have something to look forward to. This is why traditions are so important to me. They give me a road-map of things to look forward to.
Many of you know that I have a tradition of Friday Night Pizza. The tradition started more or less when I was a kid and we’d go to The Red Noodle (my parent’s restaurant) for pizza after Iceless Hockey games. Pizza is a great Friday night treat for lots of people. But it’s a bit of an obsession for my husband and I. To the extent that Friday Night Pizza is now a weekly occurrence (yes, we do schedule other things around it because it is sacrosanct) and it is always homemade. We have road-tested many crusts, many sauces and many permutations. We have dedicated pizza stones and I have my eye on the original Red Noodle pizza knife which currently resides at my parents house. Pizza is a huge deal for us. But only on Friday nights. Because that is our tradition.
PIzza tradition next-gen
Now that Minnie-Sue has entered the mix, she has a ready-made tradition. We’ve added to the tradition by ratifying the Friday Family Film Amendment which allows for pizza eaten in front of a film chosen through our complicated Film Choosing System. Our tradition starts on Thursday evening with the making of the pizza dough and of course our salivating over the fact that the next day is Pizza Night.
I hope that when she is grown up, Minnie Sue will be able to recall the anticipation, smell & taste of Friday Night Pizza. I hope that she will continue the tradition and that we will be invited to her house to join her and her family. We can then share the memories of Friday Night Pizza when she was growing up, each one telling the stories from their own perspective.
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Do you have anything special that you do around memory making or memory keeping? Or are you looking for new ideas to preserve memories? Let me know in the comments below!