“Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.” ~ Cicero
What memories does Christmas bring to your mind? Perhaps you remember the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning to find a pile of presents under the tree. Maybe you recall sledding, snowball fights, or sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace. You may even have memories of the time your family decided to chop down its own Christmas tree. Whatever your recollections, there’s no denying that the holiday season is a memorable time of year.
How Memories Enrich Our Relationships
Have you ever considered the value that shared memories bring to relationships? Fond remembrances are the foundation of my dearest friendships and of my relationships with loved ones. I cannot think of my family without thinking of the wonderful times we’ve had together throughout the years. I believe memories enrich our relationships in the following ways:
1) Memories Draw Us Together
Memories are meaningful because they are the exclusive territory of those who took part in creating them. There’s a sense of intimacy that comes from a shared experience, since only those involved have access to the memory of it. The uniqueness of shared experiences explains why we have inside jokes that are incomprehensible to anyone apart from our closest friends.
As newlyweds, Margaret and I led a small church in Hillham, Indiana. I have memories of faces, places, and events in Hillham that are incredibly significant to me, but no one except Margaret would understand why they mean so much to me. Since my wife was at my side and shares my memories, we can reminisce and laugh about them. Our mutual remembrances draw us together.
2) Memories Serve as Connection Points
Each person has a one-of-a-kind personality, a unique vantage point in life, and his or her own ideas and opinions. Yet our lives intersect, and we experience each day in the context of relationships. Together we encounter all sorts of events and situations-some humorous, some significant, and others simply ordinary. These shared moments familiarize us with one another and give us a feeling of connectedness.
Even when we have lost touch with old friends, we can instantly connect if we cross paths. Why? Because we never lose the memories that we share, and those past memories serve as a connection point to reengage in the relationship.
3) Memories Generate Positive Emotions
We enjoy reliving fond memories when we join together with loved ones. At family gatherings or class reunions, stories about “the good old days” can go on for hours and hours, punctuated by roars of laughter. Our memories stir up emotions of warmth and happiness, and they remind us of why our relationships are so valuable to us.
7 Ways to Make a Memory
Memories don’t have to happen on accident. We can plan our lives in order to create lasting memories with the ones we love. Here are seven principles for making memories…
1) Initiative – Make Something Happen
As Lewis Carroll once said, “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.” Life isn’t lived in reverse, yet many people spend their days yearning for the past. Instigate fresh memories by starting new family traditions or by inviting your friends to partake in activities that will help them and you continue to grow and learn.
2) Time – Set Aside Time to Make It Happen
If we aren’t careful, the humdrum routine of life crowds out joyous moments with the ones we love. Guard your calendar so that work never overruns your relationships with parents, children, or a spouse.
3) Planning – Plan For Something to Happen
Most people don’t lead their lives; they accept their lives. Consciously choose to live a life worthy of remembrance. Be intentional about planning events to celebrate the relationships that matter most to you.
4) Creativity – Find a Way to Make Something Happen
Instead of watching football for eight hours straight, get off the couch and exercise your creativity. Whether a cake, a craft, or a construction project, strong memories are made when people build something together.
5) Shared Experiences – Make Something Happen Together
Memories compound when you share them with someone you love. Spoil those you care about by treating them to their favorite restaurant or taking them to their favorite travel destination.
6) Mementos – Show That Something Happened
“Almost anything you do today will be forgotten in just a few weeks,” says John McCrone. “The ability to retrieve a memory decreases exponentially unless boosted by artificial aids such as diaries and photographs.” Take pictures, write in a journal, and buy souvenirs so that you have keepsakes to keep the memory alive. These physical reminders evoke the emotions of pleasant times spent with friends and family.
7) Relive the Memory – Talk About What Happened
In conversations, revisit your memories. Share stories and recall the humor in past events. Talking about your memories brings them to life and allows you to reconnect with the magical moments of days gone by.