Even though Robert and I come from very different family backgrounds, we both have the same kinds of family memories. I remember the many times my family packed up the cooler with mom’s fried chicken, boiled eggs, potato salad, and delicious watermelon to go to on a picnic at one of the county parks. Robert says he remembers not so much the recurring events, but the special ones, like the time the family rented a cabin in the woods or the time he and his sister spent three weeks with relatives in Detroit.
Memories form in our minds for lots of different reasons. Sometimes it’s because someone planned to make an event memorable, but sometimes it’s the unexpected disaster or fortune that could never have been planned. Some memories grow with the retelling. Some memories hide themselves as simple routines or habits, only to be recovered years later through some triggering event or comment.
Nevertheless, memories can be created on purpose. It seems to us that good relationships should include intentional memory making. You don’t need to spend money or even go outside your home to make a memory. Here are some ideas:
- Go do the unexpected, big deal thing (like an unplanned road trip).
- Start a tradition around Christmas, Easter, or some other important date.
- Choose to be consistent about something really important, even in the face of uncooperative children or spouse (like reading through the Bible for devotions).
- Read aloud (or let someone else via an audio book).
- Take pictures, and then let the kids make scrapbooks (physical or electronic).
- Treat your children differently in tangible ways that say, “I see your uniqueness and rejoice in it.”
Our list is just a place to start. The idea is that we can create family memories if we just take the time to work at it. It is important not to stress over how well we have done this in the past. Let’s trust God to give us the grace to make our family’s life a joyful, Christ-filled experience.