Capturing Memories

Wow, being sick has me as forgetful as a goldfish–or maybe even more so. Just a moment ago I took a moment to visit Orangette, and after getting distracted by a great new post on oatmeal popovers, I forgot about the reason I looked up Molly’s blog to begin with. To be honest, sometimes I think that having a cold isn’t all that bad. With delicious hot toddies to sooth the throat, steamy chicken noodle soup, and lounging with a good book all day, can you blame me? But as of today, I’m officially sick of being sick.

Life continues, even when one’s sick. In my case, my newest nephew was born and a colleague got married this past week. It’s an exciting time, for sure, and one full of memories.

I often think about the nature of memories and how to capture those little intangible mysteries. Some people take photographs, others keep a journal. Memories can be caught in-action with a camera or in the near future with paper and pen. But at what point does striving to document a special time–whether it’s a trip overseas or a child’s first trip to the zoo–interfere with the ability to just soak up and bask in the moment? I suppose it depends on the person, and his or her propensity to get caught up in details.

Years ago, while visiting Paris and then Germany with my family and extended family, I kept a detailed account of the trip in my purple journal with a picture of the Eiffel Tower in front. My relatives must have gotten sick of seeing me pull out that journal all the time to capture memories, sometimes in realtime. For example,

“We’re in Rothenberg now, inside the walls of the city. We’re at a cafe and [M] spilled her hot chocolate. She tipped a hot drink at the Eiffel Tower, too. We got a little laugh at her tendency to spill hot drinks.”

What in the world was I doing writing in my journal while I was at a café abroad with my family?! On the one hand, I went overboard during that trip, wanting to remember all the precious little details–to the point that I filled almost half of the journal. On the other hand, reading the little anecdotes about my family, what I had to say about the Parisian metro, and how I described the city’s distinct smells bring me back to that time and place. I’m thankful for that.

It might be easiest to document details in the present, or at least shortly after they happen, but it’s never too late. My mom and I are embarking on a new project, recording family recipes with accompanying stories. Along with the recipe for Grandpa M.’s “hot dish”–a special mix of meat, pasta, and spices I loved eating as a child–we’ll share old photos and memories of Grandpa that are still vivid even more than two decades after he died of injuries from a car crash. A recipe for Scandinavian rice pudding with raspberry coulis will accompany a tribute to Grandma D.’s hospitality and the way she preserved and shared her Norwegian heritage after she left Norway over 50 years ago.

At times it seems like a daunting project, but Mom and I will take it step by step, recipe by recipe, story by story. And in the process, we’ll be creating new memories with each other.

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3 thoughts on “Capturing Memories

  1. I love the cookbook with your mom idea. Recipes sure do stir up memories. I just started doing a cookbook for my grandchildren. One of the chapters will be some of the things I cooked for my children when they were growing up. I am having such a good time doing it. What got me started was my oldest grandson calls me everyonce in awhile for something I cooked when he and his mom lived with me. I also was planning on writing a book of memories and stories from my life for my grandchildren, maybe like you I can combine some of this. Thanks for the ideas.

    • Judie–what a fantastic idea. Your children and grandchildren are going to love that book! My grandmother recently gave me a bunch of her old recipe books and boxes, and the handwritten notebooks full of recipes–including one from before she was even married!–are such a treat to have, especially when we can bake the recipes together!

  2. Welcome back,..I missed your lovely posts!!

    I hope you will feel better soon! I didn’t post much recently too because we just baught our 1st house & I had to study for my Spanish exam. I passed with 74%!
    That’s a great & lovely idea: the recipes from old time with your mom & you combined with lovely stories like these one!!
    Kisses from Brussels to you!

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