They could possibly prompt something that could frame your present and future. Without them, you could be lost.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the value of memories.
Memories evoke a certain time, place, and emotion. They help frame a life that was lived well with the people, places, and pursuits that define your life.
With them, you can recall the good times in your life. They could possibly prompt something that could frame your present and future. Without them, you could be lost.
In the past three years, Chevrolet produced an extended Holiday-themed commercial that prompts memories. A mid-1960s Impala convertible left in a barn, only to be resurrected by the daughter of the owner and his friends. The 1957 Nomad driven by a neighborhood scion that almost gave up the ghost at a supermarket parking lot, only to be repaired by a younger neighbor. This year, it was a family matriarch dealing with her Alzheimer’s only to be resurrected by her granddaughter and an immaculate 1972 Suburban.
The latest one struck me the most. They all did. It wasn’t just the use of John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders” as the soundtrack of the story. It was a reminder on how family –no matter your relationship with them – are important during this time of year.
Twenty-eight years ago, I wrote a piece called “The Lonely Loft” – since re-titled “A Thought For The Holidays.” It focused on a single person who spent the holidays alone – namely Thanksgiving. Its message was simple at the time: Find your family – your definition of “family” will vary. In my case, my biological family was hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. Yet, I have developed a family of friends over the years that have welcomed me over the holidays. That depends on whether I could make it out there or not.
Remembering the circumstances that prompted writing that piece is proof that memories become important this time of year. It also opened up a portal of more memories that have been made in these past 59 years.
For example, the time when I ran up and down Orange County, California for the last time we spent Thanksgiving as a family in 1991. I was the one to transport mom from her mobile home down to my brother’s then-townhome. The trek up and down the San Diego Freeway (er, the “405”) and dropping mom as I tried to transfer her from her wheelchair into a rented Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. She laughed. We both laughed. It was the last time I’ve been with my mother.
Or, the time I spent Thanksgiving with two families in 1985. Another rented car prompted me to split my time between my own family and a family of friends – a distance of 33 miles across Los Angeles. It was at a time of confusion and rebellion in my life. Clearly, we’re talking two different Thanksgiving feasts and two different traditions.
Over the years, my own emphasis on the Holidays was on Thanksgiving. I have pretty much strayed away from Christmas and Hanukkah. You will never find either a tall spruce tree or a menorah where I live. Not for any reason except for practicality’s sake.
Because memories of those holidays go back further than the ones I remember from Thanksgiving, I have some sort of detachment from them. Except perhaps for social media posts and reminders out in public.
Then again, memories are what make us. They remind us of who we are and where we came from. Some good; some not so good.
The latest Chevrolet Holiday commercial serves as a prime example of that. Good memories that take a special prompt to remember as time is fleeting.
Hold on to your memories. The good ones will last a lifetime will be fondly recalled whenever prompted. The not so good ones serve as reminders to emerge better than your past.
Photos by Randy Stern