Rite of passage parenting: Eternal memories
Not long ago, my wife and I were coming home from visiting her sister in Hannibal, Mo. If you’ve ever been to Hannibal, you know every location seems to be named after one of Mark Twain’s fictional characters. There is the Becky Thatcher Café, the Mark Twain Dinette, Indian Joe’s Campground and the list goes on. But it’s great that my wife has such a cool place to call home. On the way back to Tulsa, we cross I-70 and on the south side of the road, a huge sign reads, “Nostalgiaville USA.”
We’ve passed the place many times over the years but never stopped. Since we weren’t in a hurry and the next bathroom was miles down the road, we decided to stop and see what kind of nostalgia they were peddling.
We entered the store and stepped back into time. If you grew up in the ’50s or ’60s, this store will bring back everything you remember about your childhood. The shelves hold CDs of all the old radio shows: “Amos ’n’ Andy,” “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” “The Green Hornet” and more. Move a little further down the aisle and you’ll find DVDs of the old television shows. There on the shelf I found two of my favorite childhood shows, “Tarzan” and “The Bowery Boys.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in front of the television set watching my hero Tarzan. Whenever he pounded his chest and let out that infamous Tarzan cry, I stood in the middle of our living room and pounded my scrawny little chest right along with him. And how could you forget the antics of Tarzan’s comic partner, his pet chimpanzee, Cheetah?
As I turned the corner, I came across a stack of reproduction Burma Shave signs. If you grew up in the ’50s and early ’60s, you probably have a favorite saying pulled from one of these famous signs. The one I remember best from my childhood goes like this: “Don’t stick your arm out the window too far. It might go home. In another car. Burma Shave.” These signs, scattered across the country, brought a smile to our faces whenever we ventured out on the highways and byways.
As I wandered about the store, so many memories of my childhood came rushing back. The glass counters even held the candies of my youth. Back then, we called them “penny candies,” because we got a piece of candy for a penny. If you were a rich kid, you could buy a whole pack of gum for a nickel. That day I bought some Beemans and Black Jack gum. These days, the packs cost a whole lot more than a nickel.
Even though our visit to the store only lasted about 30 minutes, it took me back to a simpler place and a simpler time of life. In today’s hectic world, it doesn’t hurt to get away for a little while.
The older I get, the more objects and occasions I find that take me back across time to my memories. Easter is one of them. As far back as I can remember, our family attended Easter sunrise services. I don’t even know if churches hold these any more. But every Easter morning, my parents would rouse us out of our beds while it was still dark. Eyes barely open, we’d stumble into our clothes so Mom and Dad could load up the car and drive to some unfamiliar place, often in the middle of nowhere.
We knew we were getting close when we came upon a line of cars parked on the side of the road. We’d make our way through a field and come to a place where a group of people had gathered. As the sun began to peek over the horizon, we joined our voices and sang, “Up from the Grave He Arose.” Then, the pastor would preach the good news that “Jesus is alive!” By the time the service was over, we were wide awake and ready to find our Easter baskets.
I was talking to an old friend who grew up in the same church I did. We share news of our families and jobs, but we never get too far into a conversation before one of us says, “Do you remember when …?” Then we tell about something that happened to us at church camp, Vacation Bible School or some other church event.
When spending time with your family, make sure to build spiritual memories into your children’s lives. I have many memories of family vacations and reunions. Those are great, but I have even more special memories that revolve around the things of God.
Make sure your family shares memories with an eternal focus. Those are the kind that last … forever.