We are knee deep in summer in the South. Whereas lazy days, sun and water activities, and times together with family and friends normally fill our days, many of us are still staying in place, hoping to avoid COVID-19. Still, we can be engaged in moments that create memories. An advertisement recommends, “Spend More Moments in the Moment.” What a wonderful message. Too often we are so busy going, doing, and acquiring that we fail to be present in the moment. This has not been as true since early March, due to the Coronavirus. Many of us are now used to a slower pace. Although this is an unusual time, summer provides us moments that create memories. But all moments are not the same, even when they create memories.
It is not uncommon to see families and friends together, all on their devices, totally unconnected with those present. When seeing this, I am often curious about how could whatever is on the device be more important than those with whom one is present? This is not spending the right kind of moments in the moment; quite the opposite. It is time to put technology in its place. Technology should be used for work and occasional relaxation, not to entertain us when we should be present with others. While we wouldn’t think to carry a board game into a restaurant to entertain us, our devices are small enough to accompany us almost everywhere we go. This is creating the wrong kind of moments in the moment. These are not the memories that we should savor. With most of summer still ahead of us, let’s make memories from the right kind of moments.
Most of us have boxes and bins of photos clogging our spaces and our devices. Many of those photos are of events and people that are so far removed from our present lives that we do not need to keep the photos. They were our past and can be discarded. Before doing so, however, we need to commit some time to this. For there are surely some photos in with those others that we do want to keep, perhaps some photos of our distant relatives. We can create memorable moments with our children by involving them in this process, introducing them to those relatives. We can tell them stories of those relatives, bringing them to life for a short while. For the physical photos, we should assure that the photos are labeled with all pertinent information, especially names, relationship, and dates. We can discard all negatives, for it is unlikely that those would ever be converted to photos. We can discard duplicates, unless we plan to give those to different family members. This includes the duplicates of our children’s school photos. If our children do not want those school photos, do we really want to hold on to them? Another option is to create a memory book with our children and grandchildren of their parents, themselves, and even some distant relatives.
A few other points about photos. Yes, those can be scanned and maintained digitally, and they will require less space. Before spending the time and money to do so, however, consider whether the digital form will ever be viewed again, or just sit on a shelf. A while back I found some printed pages of our daughter’s blog that she wrote years ago, which included photos of her two oldest children. I took those pages with me when I visited the grandchildren, and we relived memories and created new ones going through those together. I don’t think the experience would have been as memorable in digital form.
Another idea is to create rituals with our family that are memorable moments that become traditions. One ritual some families enjoy is a regular weekly night of pizza and movie watching. In some families these traditions are so sacred that they supersede any other activity. The summer is a good time to begin such a tradition. Also, if your family has such a tradition, do not allow the different schedule of the summer to change it, unless doing so is a conscious decision. Traditions can change, but if they just get set aside or lost in the shuffle of the different season, it does not take long before a tradition loses its meaning.
Summer is a wonderful time to play, but it should not be all about play. Many people have more available time in the summer than in the regular school year with all of its activities. We can create memorable moments by choosing to spend some time with our children volunteering to help those in need. If we have a regular time for this, and elect the same volunteer effort, it will become not just memorable moments but a meaningful tradition. If the volunteer effort has a special meaning for us, it will become even more memorable. This is different than the volunteering many people do as a part of their professional work; that, while worthy, has a different purpose. The purpose of volunteering with our children is two-fold; creating memorable moments while helping those in need.
There are many ways to create moments and memories. The exact activity is less important than the commitment to be present with others, consciously and consistently turning moments into memories.