Memory is intertwined with emotion. That’s one of the things I learned while writing 50 Body Questions. The parts of your brain responsible for forming long-term memories are literally tangled with the parts of your brain used for intense feelings. Thus, you forget the 1500 delicious but predictable lasagna dinners of your childhood, while remembering the one time your cousin grossed out the whole kids’ picnic table by swearing the chunks of meat between the noodles were actually cooked ants and you all spent the rest of the evening wanting to throw up on the lawn.
Sorry… where was I?
Memories. Specifically, holiday memories. Here are a few from my childhood: my sister catching a huge fish on her tiny rod, right from the beach; losing our dog from the bed of the truck and speeding back down the logging road until we found him, his legs churning and his tongue lolling as he desperately chased after us; riding the pirate ship at the PNE; calling the ambulance when my grandpa fainted; getting heck from my aunt for making mud pies in the driveway; hatching a plan with my Auntie Toni to sneak up on my uncle, jump on him, tie him up with skipping ropes, and tickle him into submission (code word: soap).
All of which are memories tied to emotions.
Min and I were discussing this because we try so darned hard to make our kids’ summers perfect. Idyllic, even. So who the heck knows what they’ll remember? Sometimes when Monkey Boy says his prayers at night, he skips over five things about the day which I personally thought were amazing, and instead says thank you for the pipe cleaners we bought.
What if we’ve driven them all the way to Oregon and back, and they’ll retain none of it?!?
Min has suggested that before every new experience, we throw them off a small cliff, just to brand the moment in their minds.
I’m thinking I’ll just tell them there are ants in the lasagna.