The author of this article has chosen to remain anonymous.
Picture this scenario – you are sitting at the dinner table with friends when someone asks you about a day trip you took with your family 6 months ago. You do your best to recollect the details of the getaway and share the story as you remember it, consciously aware that you have probably forgotten certain parts.
And when you finish explaining every detail of the story, your child jumps in and says: “dad – you forgot one of my favorite parts!”
That very moment happened to me just a few weeks ago. Without getting into specifics, some friends of ours were asking about a short trip we took to a local battleship museum earlier in the year. And my son had to remind of the most memorable part of the trip. Apparently it was a major detail I had already forgotten.
When I became a father, I knew that everyday we would experience something new together. And for the longest time I lived with the mindset that these special moments would stay with us as a memory – forever.
But this experience at the dinner table made me realize it’s time to change that frame of mind. Because life is moving faster than we can keep up with. Holidays, summer fun, school – it all goes by in the blink of an eye.
The memories we have made as a family all of sudden start becoming a bit fuzzy. I now find myself having difficulty remembering the things we did together, and I know I’m not the only one.
So this inspired me to conduct a small experiment with my family. I decided to pick one specific family memory from our past, and wrote down every detail I could remember. Then during dinner that night, I shared the story with them, and we went around the table recalling the facts as we remembered them.
But boy were we surprised at how much we had forgotten!
Check out our recap of our son’s 5th birthday party, a memory from just 3 years ago that has already become blurry:
MEMORY #1: In my head I counted 13 children at the party. My wife counted 11, and my son counted 17.
The facts: Looking back at the RSVP’s, it turns out we only had 11 kids in our home that day.
MEMORY #2: My wife shared a memory about a game we arranged for the adults at the party, where we had coordinated a 45-minute beer tasting session (yep – we know how to throw a party! lol).
I added to her story, mentioning the name of the beer that was voted crowd favorite. And my son remembered going to the store with me before the party and buying the bottles of beer.
The facts: while each of us remembered the details correctly, we ALL had the date completely wrong! The beer tasting event was held at a completely different party at our house that year. Coincidentally, it just happened to occur within a few weeks of his birthday celebration and had many of the same people.
MEMORY #3: My son shared a memory about the cake, and how much he enjoyed both making and eating it. My wife mentioned the dessert as well, but she recalled eating ice cream cake, not homemade. I remembered making the cake with him, and recalled the color scheme as being chocolate inside with white icing and blue accents.
The facts: we did make a cake that year which my son thoroughly enjoyed. But it was not ice cream cake, and it had red accents – not blue.
MEMORY #4: I spoke about a moment at the party where a bunch of his friends were running around in our playroom with masks on, pretending to Autobots and Decepticons from Transformers.
My son remembered it as well, pointing out that he was dressed in an Optimus Prime Halloween costume the entire time. My wife also recalled this moment, and added that one of the kids had gotten upset because they wanted to wear the Optimus Prime costume.
The facts: all of us had the details correct. But none of it happened during his 5th birthday party. It occurred the following year at his 6th one.
MEMORY #5: My son talked about one of the favorite gifts he got that year, pointing out how much he still enjoys playing with his Megatron toy to this day.
My wife and I both know the toy he was speaking of. But she added that it was a toy WE purchased that year (it wasn’t from a friend). And I thought they both had the dates wrong, claiming he got it as a gift from us on his 6th birthday.
The facts: we did purchase that Megatron toy for him that year, but it was for Christmas. Not his birthday.
So if we were to ‘analyze’ the memories of that evening, what can we conclude?
Most of us are fully aware of how easy it is to forget things. But at the same time, we go along with the assumption that memories of major events like birthdays and vacations will stay with us forever.
Yet based on the results of our little experiment, these moments are just as susceptible to falling through the cracks of time. And it took that one evening to help me truly realize the value of documenting the history our family is making together.
We all have a story to tell. But the memories are fading faster than we are. And in the end, preservation is the key to ensuring your story is remembered – forever.