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My Parents: My First Memory Makers
My Parents: My First Memory Makers
Parenting | November 19, 2020
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We all have memories of our childhood, our first heartache, big and small victories that can take us back to a specific moment in time, not just from our development, but maybe even from our teenage rites of passage. Some of these memories mark events that are milestones and signify the end of one part of our journey in our humanness and the beginning of a new chapter—with new goals, new obstacles to overcome, and new memories that will be created and stored in our memory bank.

As I was putting my thoughts together for this month’s theme of MEMORIES, I couldn’t help but recall my childhood memories that were obviously important in my growth and development. For this two-part article, please forgive me as I take a stroll down memory lane for the first part, and share a few pieces of my childhood that I know helped make me the parent that I am today.

Circa 1994

Lasting Impact

Admittedly, I have photos of my first day of kindergarten, but I cannot remember anything significant, beyond the faded tattered pictures from that first school day with my Nana holding my hand. 

What I DO remember is each of my teachers from those early school years—their names and their hugs, their encouragement, and their kindness. And as I reflect on them now, I am sure that each one of these beautiful individuals is a reason why I chose to study a career in education. Because of my experiences with the early childhood educators in my life, I knew that teaching was the career that I wanted to pursue. 

It just goes to show the lasting impact that can be made in the formative years to shape who we will become when we make our way in the world.

Cousin Leah’s communion with my big sisters and baby brother.

Memories Made From Meals

I have beautiful memories of the home-spun holidays with family from both my Filipina and American Italian sides of the family. The cast of characters was usually the same, and my mother would take charge of all the women in the family by bringing them together in the kitchen. Together, they would cook up meals that would be served family-style, on the extension of a table that my father built in the backyard with plywood, two by fours, and carefully covered up sawhorses to serve as the legs for the table that would extend far into the living room. 

When the sawhorses came out, we knew we were in for courses upon courses of both Filipino and Italian food that would be passed on serving platters which were handed down from my uncle’s supper club and my nana’s kitchen. In fact, I still am blessed to be able to serve our Sunday Gravy in the pasta bowl that my Nana would serve my dad when he was younger. Talk about tradition passed on in the kitchen? That pasta bowl comes with so much ancestral energy, and so many more memories…

Meals with the family extend to the living room.

Nostalgia and Warm Fuzzies

The scent of apple pie wafting through the house reminds me of fall. Fresh cut grass screams of hot summer, sweaty days, in August. And the beauty and quiet of the first snowfall stir up memories of cocooning with a crocheted blankie on the sofa, as old man winter settles in. These memories of growing up in The Hudson Valley with four distinct seasons bring on waves of nostalgia and warmth. 

I recall these moments in my childhood, and I wonder if my children will have memories of visiting the beach with their Ninang every year-end holiday. Or if the smell of Italian sausage stuffing will remind them that we shared our Thanksgiving table with friends and family who are dear to us in November. Or will visuals of The Moriones remind them of spending Holy Week in Marinduque…

All the women in the family.
Below: More scenes from Thanksgiving, 1985.

Finding Meaning in the Mundane

I’m not sure if my siblings would remember the times when our dad would pack us all in the station wagon with my cousins to watch Spartacus or Ben Hur in the old-time movies across the Hudson River. 

These mundane movie moments were nothing out of the ordinary. If you saw all of us together, you would see my dad in his plaid shirt with a gaggle of noisy kids coming out of a movie theater (from a REALLY LONG MOVIE) and having a discussion about a movie that maybe not all of us understood because of our ages. 

I hold these simple memories of watching a movie with my dad near to my heart because it was during these times that I knew he was totally present for all of us. It wasn’t so much that going to the movies was a special occasion. It was that he piled us all in the car. Asked us questions. Laughed at our silliness. Stopped for photo opportunities with all the cousins together. Discussed the movie with us afterward and asked what we thought about it. He bought us ice cream at the local ice cream shop and spent time with all of us like that was his only job for the day.

Pumpkin-picking as children.
Christmas tree traditions with my dad.

Heartstrings/ Emotional Investments

There is a reason why certain commercials make us teary-eyed. It’s the same reason why love songs can have us belting the lyrics out with emotions from years gone by and why some memories seem to be easier to recall than others. 

Whether negative or positive, emotional recall is also something that can affect how we shape and share the different parts of our stories. Brands know this. This is why all of our Christmas advertisements tug on the nostalgia of yesteryear and times gone by. They remind us of familial moments that are unrivaled and of comfort food that brings us back to our own mother’s table when our feet did not yet reach the floor. It’s conscious. It’s palpable. It’s thought-provoking and endearing. It feels good.

As we prepare for our own holiday tables and gatherings, it’s what brings us back to our core. Those memories are part of our story, and we intertwine them with the stories that we are shaping for our children. We take the good parts and make sure to pass them on to the next generation. We do this in the same way that our parents helped shape our childhood memories for us.

My glamorous mom after cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 40 people.

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Michelle Aventajado shares lessons learned through triumphs and challenges in motherhood, relationships, and life, as she raises four children ranging in age from nine to twenty-one. She believes that every trial presents an opportunity to learn, that her daughter Gelli is her greatest teacher, and that as a parent, it is important to instill in her children that they are part of something bigger. 1 Cor 13:13
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