There are several important lessons that life has taught me over the years.
One of those lessons is that memories can last a lifetime.
Do you remember your childhood? When I look back on my life, there are certain moments that stick out more than others. Memories like the ones I shared with my dad that made me into the man I am today are ones I can access and will cherish forever, but what about those memories that have gotten away? Unless you were lucky enough to get pictures of everything, it’s nearly impossible to access those moments ever again. That’s why I think it’s so important to capture these important, touching, and small moments in my children’s lives as much as possible. I want them to have the chance to look back at their lives in the form of pictures and videos.
About three years ago, I remember making the decision to be more active about collecting these moments for my kids. Almost every year, I take my family on vacation to spend time together and ground ourselves as a family, away from any external pressures like work, school, and whatever else can get in the way. We were at the beach and I told my family about this idea of mine to take a series of pictures to show our progression as a family and how much we grow each year. We hold hands and walk into the ocean together, always sticking together in our life journey but growing into unique and individual people as time passes. Regardless of how much we change, we’re always a family, together, and that’s something that nothing can take away from us, not even time. These are the thoughts that inspired this family tradition and what encourage me to continue it almost every year.
I made it a point to do it again last year because I really wanted to make the commitment to starting our own family tradition. To some people, it may seem like a pretty insignificant thing, but I know that these pictures and these moments have so much more worth to myself and my family you just can’t put a price on it.
When we went again this year, my 12-year-old gave me a little bit of pushback. When you’re 12, everything feels like a responsibility and an obligation. And honestly, it’s because it is. That’s the age when kids really start to confront the reality of the world around them. This is when kids have to start acknowledging that their childhood is ending and they can’t live their life as carefree as when they were younger. At the same time, they’re so caught up in the melodrama of their teenage years, they couldn’t care less about looking ahead and living life for the long term. I try to teach my children the importance of hard-work, establishing goals, and committing to growth so that I can be sure they will grow up into responsible and successful adults. That’s kind of a lot to take in for any kid, so it’s not surprising that most kids this age don’t take things like family pictures that seriously. In that moment, I had to remind her what these were all about.
“You will thank me with tears in your eyes on your wedding day,” I said. And someday, I know she will.
Why are these moments so important?
It’s so easy for life to get in the way of remembering what’s important. Keeping tangible artifacts from your life is the best way to recall those moments that were once so special to you. It’s not just for you, of course, but for your children, your children’s children, their children, and so on. There is so much power and significance in a family heirloom passed through generations. Whether it’s a faded flag or a photograph, it’s a memory captured to be experienced over and over again. In order to give your future family (and yourself) the opportunity to connect to these memories, you have to document them in the first place.
Part of it, at least for my family, is establishing family tradition around documenting our time together over the years. It seems like the practice of family tradition is disappearing. Aside from celebrating holidays and events together, what do families do in order to connect to their familial heritage? Creating and participating in family traditions seems to be becoming a lost art, and I just don’t want to see that happen with my family.
With the way technology has advanced, we really have no excuse for not documenting these memories. We’ve got high-definition computer-cameras that fit perfectly in our pocket, which we happen to have on us at all times. I recommend taking advantage of this and making the decision to create new family traditions and document special moments you share with your family. These are important things for our children to have so that they can look back on their lives and see how far they’ve come.
I hope you enjoyed these moments of my family and I as much as I have and that you feel inspired to create your own. Don’t let these moments pass you by without capturing them. Someday you’ll want to be able to look back and smile at the memories, and your kids will thank you for it, too.
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