Last night I stood in front of the house on Almond Avenue. The house that I lived in for the first fifteen years of life. The blue paint had been replaced with a pale creamy yellow but the palm tree outside my bedroom window remained. (Because, Florida.) From first steps to cheerleading practice, that house held it all.
I stood there next to my brother and for three whole minutes, it all came rushing back. Like someone pressed play on a scratchy VHS tape of our childhood– I watched us tear through the back yard with our dog, Sally– and ride, sans training wheels and hollering down the driveway.
This front yard saw one and only one white Christmas in 1989– and by the time we scraped up a few snowballs, it was more of a grey Christmas anyway— but we may as well have been in It’s a Wonderful Life with socks on our hands (because who has gloves in Florida?) and layers of light jackets.
And that tree over there? The one that use to tower so high? That’s where Mom lined us up in our Easter pastels and took our photo each and every April, grinning and jittery from too many jelly beans.
Not surprisingly, the snapshots of life that play over and again in my head are the simple lovely bits of every day life that we lived and not the “bigger” moments.
This week I laughed and perhaps shed a tear or two at the poignant and hilarious Inside Out movie. One of the most lovely parts of the movie was the concept of “core memories.” In the movie, these pivotal moments, happy or sad– drive ones’ personality and who they become.
Later I realized that most of my own core memories are not ones I would have known would become such. The smell of bubbling spaghetti sauce and the clattering of plates laid out for all of us. And laughter. So much laughter.
Meanwhile I’m the parent now with the task of raising and steering and loving littles and I cannot help but wonder if we try too hard to make every little thing an EVENT. Every birthday, St.Patrick’s Day, and Guy Fawkes Day often carries with it the pressure of “making it special.” Maybe it’s Pinterest or maybe it’s just a desire to make every moment mean something.
May I make a suggestion? Look back at your own memories. Which ones matter the most? The ones where you knew your mom stayed up all night making halloween costumes for 2 dozen cupcakes or the moments you felt loved and safe?
Life itself is special. The living of this life together is what makes it special. Give yourself a little grace and focus on what matters.
My parents loved God and loved us– and taught us to do the same. Almost everything else was just sprinkles.