"Treasure the moments or you won't be able to treasure the memories."
That line wasn't original with me. I have no idea who said it, but it's written on a little note card which has gotten shuffled from one pile to another over the past week of paperwork. Tonight, as I sat trying to come up with something worth sharing, my eyes fell on that little "note to self."
Sifting through memories, I realized it was true. Most of the memories we as a family have built over a lifetime cost very little money. Some were inconvenient. Often they resulted in messes. Often they were spontaneous, grabbing the moment.
Some of the details are a little fuzzy and not necessarily remembered the same way by all the folks involved. With the probability of extra time spent indoors, maybe even stranded, I couldn't help thinking of the teens sitting in my house one time, roasting mini marshmallows (or was it mini jellybeans?) on toothpicks over a candle—just because—or maybe to relieve the tension of being cooped up by an ice storm.
Big on my list of fond memories too is the tangle of shoes in our too-small entryway. Another memory is of one of the teens handing me a little handwritten note—on behalf of the group—thanking us for giving them a place to hang out, to just be. I saved that note.
Going back even farther in time, I think of the day our tiny dining room became Santa's Bake Shop for the afternoon. Inconvenient? I KNOW there was flour from one end to the other. I remember that much! But you know, I don't remember the cleaning up part—I only remember the camaraderie. We had some Santa hats around. The girls donned them. They baked and decorated cookies for some grandmas and grandpas they knew; and I don't recall being all bent out of shape back then over how many fingers got licked in the process, or how many germs those cookies must have had on them.
I remember the corner of our backyard which got "excavated" for a make-believe farm pond. MUCH more fun than the sandbox! With the garden hose one of my boys and some of his buddies filled that little pond and just in general did what boys do best. Did it do anything for the landscaping of our yard? No. Did they track in dirt? I suppose they did—I don't remember that part. But it was good clean (pun intended), creative fun. I'll bet those boys could tell you about it to this day.
Playdough was a staple back then. Not the store-bought kind. We made our own from a recipe which had a package of Kool-Aid in it. That did not really make it good to eat, because of all the salt in it, but I knew it wouldn't hurt them. With a Pampered Chef pastry roller and a handful of cookie cutters, a rainy afternoon went by quickly. Even more fun to make were the rolled out "snakes" which could be turned into all sorts of creations from pots to rugs to critters. Was it messy? Sure! Just as messy as the Lego tote which kept a whole living room full of kids having bidding wars over choice pieces! (We DID finally get smart and kept a sheet in the tote which they just pulled out each time to eliminate most of the clean-up chores.)
I wouldn't trade any of those messy moments for the world now, because they have resulted in a treasure trove of memories.
Email Willene at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.