Small Step No. 12

There are two ends of myself, continually in the midst of battle with one another. There is, on one end, the desire for posterity. For being the memory keepers for my children, for being the memory keeper for myself. There is a desire to document these sticky beginnings of each other – all throughout the muddled middle of life. If we’re lucky, we’ll look back to witness decades of growth far beyond pencil scratches to the door frame.

But then there is the other end of me: the one that wonders what good can possibly come from housing 1,405+ photos in our camera rolls. The one who thinks we might be a smidge less stressed if we untethered our minds and hands from the self-given role of daily family historian. Surely the moment exists if not captured in grids? Surely we can keep it forever, stored in our hearts and not our hard drives?

And so, a nice compromise:

Find a new way to remember.

Of all the things Ken has built over our years together, the dining room table is perhaps the most sacred. Between planks of carefully constructed hickory lies hard evidence of an extraordinarily ordinary life: toast crumb remnants, rogue Uno cards – just yesterday, I found a missing puzzle piece from at least 2011 sandwiched in a center crack.

Lately, our beloved table has been used near-exclusively for games. A couple here for euchre, a family visit spent playing Code Names. We threw an open house last weekend for Bee and Scout’s birthdays, and wouldn’t you know it? The men were glued to their chairs over Topple while their wives sipped rosé in the kitchen, baffled.

Sometimes, photos don’t do the memory justice, is all.

A few months ago, I began saving the scorecards to tuck beneath the table. A quick scribble of the date and reason of celebration (personal favorite: no reason at all) and these small tearsheets of paper have become a piece of our family’s living history. If you look closely on one, you can still see the salsa stain.

They’ve been living beneath our table, enfolded between the beams we rest our elbows on daily. Scout sometimes bats at them when he’s crawling underneath, and I’m fully aware that someday his own initials might proudly live atop a dominating 500 Rummy score.

It’ll be a memory worth keeping indeed.


p.s. These are a series of small steps that will (hopefully) provide one giant leap to greater things. Not for mankind, but for me, and perhaps for you, which will always be good enough in my book. More here.

  • What a lovely and poignant idea, Erin. We’ve tacked hand-drawn Scrabble scorecards to the fridge, but I love that your bits and bobs live within your most used gathering place: the family table. <3

  • First: Happy Birthday, Bee! Forrest is so excited to be 5 too on Monday. Some days I feel like a good historian, others I feel you can’t take it with you so why bother? I like this idea to tuck the occasional moments away – I’ll likely remember the big ones, but the little ones often provide the substance. = )

    • i always forget how close in age forrest and bee are! :) and ha, you know how much i agree with you! :)

  • Though I am in my 70’s I really enjoy your blog … my son has a 3 y.o. and 1. y.ol … and I pick up ideas! He and his wife are also trying to keep it simple (they are in their 30’s/40’s) … but I admit I miss the “good old days” when people stayed in one place and created a house full of memories for the next generation … my grandparents lived in the same little bungalow in Long Beach for decades … all of their kids and grandkids love the memories of the kitchen walls covered with grandma’s collection of pot holders … and the hundreds of tick marks on the molding around the built in booth where endless games of cribbage outcomes were recorded … evidence of days of ordinary living … divorce and downsizing has left me in an apartment which has little room for preserving the past …

    • i love how you described your grandparents’ place – what a magical home that must have been! :)

  • hey miss erin .. i have a slew of pages like that myself .. and i have the same vacillations .. i typically don’t have the best memory .. so photos help quite a bit with that :)

Comments are closed.