One of my best friends practices what I think of as “conscious memory making”. During one of her visits to my home, she asked if we could just hang out in the living room, watch goofy TV and chat. You know how Luna Lovegood says things that are so honest it can be uncomfortable? Well, she did just that when she shared with me that she has a mental photo album of “every day memories” she hangs on to for when times are rough. She holds the simple pleasure of just spending time together as equally powerful and emotionally comforting as big vacations and adventures. You could consider it being present or practicing gratitude. Whatever you call it, that mental photo album made me wonder what creates memories and experiences.
There is a recipe for crafting powerful memories: mix equal parts anticipation, the event itself and reflection.Tweet
It’s why planning vacations and sharing pictures when you return home is as impactful as the vacation itself. As I get older, traditions are increasingly important to me. It’s partially because I want to share experiences that are I love with my son. It’s also because traditions have become a source of comfort and stability in a very dynamic and uncertain world.
Traditions are the marriage of predictably met expectations and anticipation. A tradition is a tradition because there is an anticipated experience and the intention of passing comforting memories through generations. Once a tradition is repeated enough, it then becomes one of a string of memories in that mental photo album as well as a shared experience. One of my favorite traditions is Mount Holyoke College’s Mountain Day: a day in the fall when classes are cancelled so the gorgeous New England autumn can be enjoyed, ideally by hiking Mount Holyoke. As an alum, I can’t skip work, but I can celebrate and share in the end of day tradition of getting ice cream at 6:37 PM!
What traditions do you most look forward to each year and why?
What memories make up your mental photo album?