As my husband proclaimed, “Make a memory!” the children and I burst into laughter. There we all stood each at a different pine tree, in the middle of the Tonto National Forest, with our faces pressed to the trunk of the tree. We smelled the pine tree to see if it smelled like vanilla ice cream, and it did! We signed up for the guided hike with Ranger Bob (really his name) not knowing it would be so informative and entertaining! Our children, ages six and nine, loved every moment. They loved seeing the beaver dam, the different poisonous plants, and now the ice cream pine trees. We all looked ridiculous hugging the trees, and that was the moment my husband wanted to capture in a memory forever.
We began making a memory when our children were too small to know. However, as they grew it was a practice we incorporated into our family life. When there was a special moment—maybe funny or happy, but also maybe serious or sad, we would prompt our children to make a memory by capturing the moment in their brain. We actually taught them to tell their brain to remember the moment. The best memories to capture are memories associated with emotions and feelings. Our brains have an amazing ability to remember emotions. Amazingly enough, by teaching our children to pay attention and conscientiously remember special moments, all kinds of memories were captured like paintings on the artists’ canvas. Some of the memories cost money, but many of the best memories were absolutely free, like smelling the trees.
I especially encourage you to make at least one strong memory each summer break or vacation. There is something about the summer time that lends itself to relaxation and rest. It seems we all move a little slower in the summer. So, when family time is spent, consciously watch for the moments that you and the kids will want to remember forever: moments at the beach, moments playing a board game, moments laughing together, moments enjoying a summer food like homemade ice cream or big slices of cold watermelon, moments playing in the water sprinkler, moments catching fireflies, moments watching fireworks flat on your back under the stars. It is these captured memories that your kids will remember and tell their kids and grandkids. This is how we pass on values and the important things in life, not only as a family, but as a society.
Camping was a great time to capture memories for our family. There is something about sleeping in a tent and sitting by the fire that bonds a family. On the particular hike with Ranger Bob, our children don’t remember all of the poisonous leaves or the different varieties of wild flowers, but they do remember the joy and laughter in the moment of hugging a tree and smelling vanilla ice cream. On another camping trip we were all asleep when one woke up to go to the bathroom. The camping rule applied and when one woke up to leave the tent, we all woke up to leave the tent. Upon exiting the tent first, the light was so bright outside that it made me look up. I could not believe what I saw. Million of stars shone brighter than I have ever seen. The sky was alive with light everywhere. It literally took my breath away. Quietly I hurried my family out of the tent. One by one we looked up and gasped. After the bathroom run was finished, we lingered outside the tent. “Make a memory, girls,” my husband whispered as we stood in silence.
The memory we all made as the four of us stood in awe under God’s magnificent creation is one that has carried us through good times and hard times—times when we’ve been together and times when we’ve been apart. Today, my children are grown and gone from our home, but this beautiful memory stays with us all as a familiar friend, reminding us of the awesomeness of God’s creation and the love that binds us together as a family. Try it this summer—make a memory that will last a lifetime.
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