The Gift: It Keeps on Giving

I was never good at throwing things out. I have boxes filled with postcards from 20 years ago and more, greeting cards signed by people I’ve long forgotten, and photos – oh, the photos. It’s as if throwing one out is somehow throwing out the person. And so I err on the side of caution and save them all.

I save memories too. I hoard them like treasures. Like Halloween candy. But I rely on my mind more than I should to preserve them. My mental snapshots need safer keeping than my brain will allow. Particularly the newborn memories, with their value in inverse proportion to the functionality of our gray matter during those weeks.

Thanks to Blog Antagonist, and her lovely essay (post seems an unworthy descriptor), The Gift, I am taking the time to write down more things. The little things, the ones not worthy of a blog post or even a personal journal entry, but maybe just a brief few words scribbled on a scrap of paper and tucked into a junk drawer or laid between the leaves of Thalia’s half-finished baby book. I’m not always sure what I am saving these memories for. Maybe they’ll appear here in some form some day. Maybe they’re to share with family. Maybe they’re just for me and Nate to laugh about in the dark when we have that odd, quiet moment alone.

Thalia dancing to the Backyardigans theme song.

Licking slices of pickled ginger and saying “mmmmm, sushi.”

Anyone playing baseball is is “Yankees!”

The hiccups, all the time.

Sometimes it’s funny moments I don’t want to forget.

The dragonfly that stayed on our window for three days. Thalia ran to look at it every morning until Nate explained “it flew home to its mommy and daddy.” Of course it was dead all along.

Trying to explain pronouns. When she asks for the baby she says “hold it?” I tell her her sister is not an it. She thinks a while and says confidently, “Hold…HIM.”

I told Thalia not to stick her fingers into her butt and then into her mouth. “Eat it,” she said. No, I told her. Don’t eat it. A pause. A devilish smile. “Liiiiike it.”

Or it’s a list of those toddler misnomers–adorable really only when you catch them in person, and best left off the blog. Anything that in the retelling, might end with the disclaimer, “you had to be there.”

A dragonfly is a dragontail.
A birthday cake is a happy cake.
Parmesan is yummy cheese.

As in BA’s situation, some of the memories come back at strange times, kicked from the cobwebs of my mind into clear consciousness for unknown reasons.

Or sometimes they come back because we now have a baby here again.

As different as Sage is from Thalia, she’s the harbinger of recessed recollections. She’s giving me a gift, a second chance to remember things about Thalia too. Like how shakes her head frantically side to side when she wants to suck on something. (Generally me). Or how her little gurgly sounds after nursing sound like heureux, heureux–French for happy.

I would hate to have lost those. And now I have them back.

BA put it so perfectly poetically as she always does: “These memories are kept in the slippery gray folds of my mind, just waiting for something to beckon them forth on tendrils of memory that are like fine silken threads; soft and slender, but strong. Substantial. Enduring.”

June 2007 Perfect Post Awards

And that’s why she easily gets my nomination for June’s Perfect Post.


10 thoughts on “The Gift: It Keeps on Giving”

  1. Yes… we need to remember the little things. For me (and a lot of people) certain smells bring back memories and emotions. Isn’t it funny how some memories need a catalyst?

  2. I’m in the same place lately. I just reread all my jotted notes from Q. I only wish I had written more. Poor Drew. I suppose the least I could do for him is at least write down is birth info for starters. However, I’m fairly sure that’s not a “small moment.”

  3. I still need to write down the major events – the smaller events need to get written down, too.Like just this week, when Cordy named M&M’s “yummy circles”.

  4. Like others here, I thank you for sharing this beautiful idea. The sad thing is that the things we will want to remember most so often happen when it’s way too crazy and chaotic to write anything more than a phrase — and I’m impressed you have the discipline to do that.One other idea – my sister, when she moved and needed to pitch a lot of stuff, made a kind of scrapbook. She had an old school backpack we’d bought in Norway many years ago on our one family trip to Europe. It had to go – but she cut a patch of it and glued it into what became a kind of scrap book. It combined words with relics so that each thing she discarded left a bit of itself behind. With both of my boys grown I thought I’d forget so much but I’ve found at least a partial antidote. We have several friends with kids from 2 months to three years. We see them a lot – and being around these wonderful small people pulls up memory after memory. So lots of things I THOUGHT I’d forgotten emerge from our times with this current crop of new people.

  5. Beautiful. Every so often, I try to collect the post-it notes littering my desk and type them into something I won’t lose. Things not worthy of a whole post, but special to remember, like the time the little dude ran into my room to wake me up, calling, “ma-ma, ma-ma, mom-my!” like a conga line chant.

  6. I LOVED that post, my ABSOLUTE favorite line was exactly the one you quoted. She inspired me, as well. Those moments, they are gone in a flash.

  7. I have scraps of notes and little pads with cute or noteworthy things written on them and first carnival tickets and first movie stubs and all sorts of ephemera stashed in my office cabinets. I take lots of notes for both kids because I live in actual fear of forgetting all those memories as they are replaced by new ones.And I have boxes of cards, letters, postcards etc, too. I’ll probably cart them around from house to house until I’m too old to read them anymore. I just can’t throw them out.

Comments are closed.