Every now and then, a thought, conversation or event will pop into my mind at the most unexpected time. I guess it’s not so uncommon really. Anything can trigger a trip down memory lane.
The mere presence of snow will make me reminisce about the story my dad used to tell us about his Volkswagen Beetle. He was driving alone down a snow-packed country road and the stick shift was, shall we say, defective. It kept jamming up until my father got so frustrated, he stopped by the side of the road, rolled down his window, yanked the stick out and aggressively tossed it out into the field. Hilarious!! (although he didn’t find it funny at the time I am sure). When he came to his senses and realized what he had done, there he was walking knee-deep in whiteness trying to find that crucial piece of equipment so he can drive himself home. Luckily, he did. That was my father. Quick-tempered and no patience.
When I see a Toblerone chocolate bar at the grocery store, this brings me back to the massive one I had received as a gift. I can’t recall the weight but it was definitely a limited edition. To put things into perspective, chopping this thing with a knife was simply out of the question. It wouldn’t have made a dent. With a screwdriver and hammer in hand, I managed to chip away at it like a sculpter, bit by bit, into edible pieces. My parents found it extremely amusing to find me on my knees, on the patio deck, hacking away at a bar the size of a wooden log, until I realized I had better things to do with my time. The rest was thrown into a pot for fondue.
Summertime and neighborhood parks connect me to the moment I found out the hard way (literally) that golf clubs are made of extremely unforgiving material. My brother, decided that he wanted to practice his golf swing in the backyard as I was having fun on an actual playground-type swing. At the time, he was 16 and I was 7. Even I realized he was a little too close to me as he brought the club back over his shoulder and then whacked the ball. I instantly remembered feeling excruciating pain on my forehead and then blood streaming down my face before my hysterical parents rushed me to the hospital. A few stitches later, Doc said if the injury had been half an inch lower, I would have lost my eye. Maybe this is why I hate watching golf on tv so much. A deep-rooted animosity stemming from my brother’s foolishness took me forever to overcome although he didn’t intentionally aim for my head. Years later, I took golf lessons in preparation for a family tournament and grew to somewhat appreciate the technical aspects of the game. I didn’t do as badly as I thought I would in that tournament but golf is definitely not for me. Had I pursued this further, I probably would have taken a page from my father’s book and fling the club out of frustration every time the ball wouldn’t go where I intended it to. Life lesson: Stick to things you know and don’t practice your swing at home. That’s what driving ranges are for.
Popsicles. Yup, even popsicles have a nostalgic effect on me in the form of a fall down the stairs at my uncle’s house in New Jersey. We were visiting as part of a summer vacation trip. I don’t remember how it happened but I tumbled backwards down 3 steps and hit my forehead again, opposite side this time! Apparently, it was a little gash that didn’t require medical attention but still, a little bloodied. However the sight of that popsicle being handed over by my aunt as a way of consoling 8-year-old tearful me was probably the best thing ever. I was still hurting but it made me feel so much better. I remember this clearly as if it were yesterday.
Nostalgia isn’t just about getting that warm, fuzzy feeling when you think fondly of precious moments. It also connects us to those events that shaped us, whether good or bad, and helps to find out why we are the way we are today either through a character trait that was passed down from a previous generation or through a personal experience which was more impactful than we could ever imagine. Going through a box of photos (something my kids will never understand because they grew up in the digital age) or visiting a childhood home is cathartic in different ways and it is a powerful way to stay grounded to our roots. As today’s kids make their own memories through the years, what we pass down to them as experiences of our youth only helps to reinforce the importance of cherishing every moment and how nostalgia transcends time.
So let’s “throw it back” again and again…..it is the best gift we could ever give to those who are dear to us.