We all have childhood memories and they are usually a mixture of good and bad and sometimes for some of us they tend to always be on the extreme edges of either bad or good, but we all have memories. The memories of our childhood often influence how we will function as adults, parents and deal with the everyday challenges, pitfalls, happy times, jobs and everything else that we will do and attempt to be in our lives and so it is with family memories. I have talked a lot about the abusive parts and moments in my life because although they were not happening as often as the good things, they were so bad so cruel that my mind never sees the good times in my childhood before seeing the bad, but that is not to say that there was no good.
In my house there were lots of children and lots of family tradition and things that every child born to that house whether living in it as a child or moved out of and living on your own as an adult, were expected to attend if you were still living in the city and the distance not deemed too inconvenient by the elders of the family. Birthdays of children and adults of a household were one such time when all who were associated with that house were expected to show up. Married , single, with children, or without all children were expected to show up with your spouse, girlfriend, or children, but show up you must and so it was from the time I could remember. I often fought for the right not to attend these gatherings, finding that I would rather be with my friends, but my mother and aunt the matriarchs of our family would have none of it and there were no patriarchs. I understand now that these were the sharing times, the passing of history times from one generation to the next. It was never about the cake, the gifts; it was always about building a family bond, getting to know each other and creating memories that could be passed onto your children when you got older in a time-honored family tradition
In the early years before my time these birthday parties for the children were grandiose affairs in which uncles and aunts brought their children your cousins to the parties and if you never seen them again any other reason you met them at family birthday parties and thus knew of them, bonded with them and would defend and protect them, because you at the very least could identify them. Of course at the time I did not know any of this I just enjoyed the cake, ate the ice cream, played the games and sung the songs. Gifts were always the smaller part of the day and although a gift was required, they were often small inexpensive things something like you would buy in a dollar store today. The importance of the day was the cementing of the family unit and the creating of memories.
If birthdays bonded a family and strengthened family ties and were a chance to learn your family’s history, then the community picnic was a chance to do the same thing with the community taking the role as the as the family hosting an event and all for the individual family units in the community attending the greater family event, thereby strengthening the community, sharing the history of the many life long friends and bonds made in this extended family and all while having a good time. There was no fighting at these picnic, gang wars and rivalries were forgotten for a day as our mothers held sway over such events.
For a few days in the summer we all came together as families and a community and made good memories. It was a time when we were not trying to kill each other. Where mother and son played and teased each other and forgot about the pain, or hurt that each may have caused each other during the year and just hugged, forgave and enjoyed each other for a few hours. I liked going to them as a child and I liked going to picnics as a young man, because they were just about clean fun and they were safe. I remember as a young man wrestling with my aunt in fun as she told the whole picnic how once I had challenged her authority and she had to box my ears and could do it again even now if she had to. I also remember a picnic where my mother was not too happy with me, but as was tradition at these affairs all was forgotten and fun took over and so I picked her up cradled in my arms and spun around and we laughed and became mother and son again, just enjoying the day with the whole community.
Memories are the information bank that we draw from whether we are aware of it or not to teach our children what life is all about and they influence how we deal with good things and bad things in our life; they influence how we deal with stress, hurt and pain. They are what we base our core values on as a person as religion, prejudices, social issues and tolerance of others not like ourselves. Memories for the good or the bad can not be avoided and I think are the most important and influential tool that a human being will ever have, because they are who we are and who we become. Memories are everything that you have ever been through and will ever have happen to you, they will be remembered consciously or non consciously, but they will influence everything that you do, say and aspire to be and that is why it is important to see that your children have great memories, full of love for their family, full times filled with good clean fun. Family times should be filled with discussion on all topics, political theories, social values, economic realities, environmental issues and concerns respect and tolerance for all people no matter how different from us they appear to be, because it is in our collective memories that the world of today and tomorrow are shaped.
Everything that is going on in the world today is happening because of someone’s memories, whether they be good or bad, right or wrong. Change the memories and change the world.