Memories of my childhood
Filing through my memories, looking for a favorite, is easier said than done. Ask me what my favorite memory of Christmas, or a Birthday, or the summer time and I could probably narrow it down. But to pick an overall favorite off the top of my head? I suppose my answer would be, there are too many “favorites”.
When I think about my childhood at an aerial view, the first thing that comes to mind is the smell of fresh cut grass on a Saturday morning. The sound of the lawn mower running, competing for attention with Dad’s old silver boombox. I always loved the knobs on that radio, it felt like you were operating something important when you flipped the switches. There was a palpable buzz about the house as things were getting done. And even though I didn’t appreciate it as much at the time, it gives me a warm feeling to think of now.
I think of shared rooms and the small, but fun moments with Dania that I keep close to my heart. When we thought we were so slick, staying up after we had long since been put to bed. We’d giggle at the ignorance of our parents… They’ve left us in this giant new room, DOWNSTAIRS! They’ll never hear us! They have no idea we are still awake! And then running and flipping across our matching twin Ikea beds. I’m quite sure we were loud enough to wake the neighborhood though.
Mission impossible: get glass of water from kitchen. On said nights when we were up past our bedtime, this was always a strange, exciting conundrum. Can you make it upstairs into the kitchen and steel a glass of water without being caught? Surely not! The stairs were riddled with soft squeaky spots. The cupboards were too loud! Mom and Dad were mere feet from the kitchen, too close to the danger zone! And surely it must have been close to dawn we were up so late! (Really probably closer to 9:30 pm.) Ha! We laughed in the face of danger. Memorized every squeak in the steps, deftly avoiding them. Closed those cupboards with feather soft fingers. Short of dropping from the ceiling from a wire, we were Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. It never occurred to us to stow a glass away in the bathroom and simply get our drinks from downstairs. But then again, where’s the thrill in that?
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring… except Dania and me huddled on the top bunk of our wooden bunk bed. This one goes back to when we were even smaller, dreams of Santa coming down our chimney swimming in our heads. We sat bunched together with tiny reindeer perched at the foot of the bed. Suddenly, our bed was no longer a simple bed, but Santa’s sleigh. This memory fades, sadly, as the years pile up behind me, but it is one that I have always kept fondly. As a side note, I should say we were never disappointed by Santa. A favorite thing I remember is finding his footprints tracked in soot trailing from the fireplace.
While we are talking about Christmas I’ll throw in some highlights. Going to that small lot in Springfield to pick out our Christmas tree always made the buzz of Christmas feel that much closer. Decorating the tree (even though it’s historically not my favorite thing to do,) was always a favorite time to experience. (I at least liked being around and watching 😝) Organizing and stacking my pile of loot Christmas morning amongst the carnage or torn wrapping paper. Christmas music floating in the background and the sense of piece and happiness that seemed to settle around us. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention caroling. That is something I more than appreciate, and have strived to give my children the same sense of wonder over decorated houses. And yes, when we turn on to a street that is sparse with that magical glow I find myself repeating “this must be the Jewish neighborhood.” Then I qualify it with, “my Dad always said that.” Remember the gingerbread house? I remember the year we drove down that street and the house was dark with nothing on it, I was so disappointed.
I remember playing in Lisa’s room when she had the upstairs room at the back of the hall. She had that huge dresser with bookshelves attached (was it a wardrobe?) We would set up each shelf as an apartment for our barbies. Then we’d spend hours, or so it seemed, preparing our Barbies for their dates. I can’t remember the conversations, but I’m sure they were epic. What I wouldn’t give to have a small video recording of that because I’m sure we were splendidly silly. Once the Barbies were ready, the Kens would pull up in their convertibles. Lisa had a red convertible and mine was white. The Barbies would hop in and we would drive them out to the living room, around the coffee table, then back down the hall where we’d return to Lisa’s room. The Barbies would promptly say goodnight to their respective Kens and voila! They have dated. I’m sure there was more to it, but those were the highlights. It sticks out to me now as an adult because that was the extent of our knowledge on dating.
I remember watching Power Rangers and Pokémon with Ian and secretly loving the show. I remember sitting on the floor of his room having him teach me how to play the card game. I also remember playing Pogs, although I couldn’t begin to tell you how to play now. I remember playing Sonic on the Sega with him. I remember double smelly and bed head. And I remember being old enough to feel motherly over someone for the first time, and how intensely I cared for him.
I remember epic battles of spit with Lisa. Over and over again we would play, cracking up all the while. I remember as a preteen / teenager, coming home from school and parking ourselves on the floor in front of the tv. (Hey, my kids never sit on the floor… I just thought of that. Kids today, they need couches! Pft!) Or curling up on the couch and taking an afternoon nap, probably because I stayed up too late. I remember sitting in the upholstered rocking chair, at the time it was covered in a black fabric with small flowers. This was when Mom and Dad had the giant room downstairs, so we were young. I remember it was during the day because the sun was softly filtering through the bushes that sat protectively in front of those windows. I remember we were all there, maybe Lisa was a baby… there was a small crib in the room I think… Anyway, we were watching Poltergeist. I was terrified, but I loved it.
I remember carving pumpkins, and trick or treating with Dad and then later being the one to take Ian around. I remember summer vacations to Chincoteague, sleeping on the hotel floor but loving every minute of it. I remember one year, digging for gold at that old western town we went to. I remember trips to Luray Caverns and Yogi Bear Park. I remember one year, Dania had gone camping with her girl scout troop, but it began to storm. So Mom and Dad packed us up into the car in what felt like the middle of the night, and driving for what seemed like hours to go get her. I remember feeling nervous, but like it was an adventure.
I remember being in the room upstairs, what would be Ian’s room. I remember Dad tucking me in but I couldn’t get to sleep. As he spoke to me, he softly rubbed my head and told me to think about a story in my head, pretend I am a princess in a castle. As he started to paint a vivid picture for me. I did what he said as fell asleep in no time. The way I remember it I think he told me it was a trick Grandma Bell taught him, and to this day it still works if I can’t fall asleep.
I remember The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear. I loved how much Dania loved that book. I remember being very small and riding in the car for a long trip, I think it was to see Grandma and Grandpa Bell in Kentucky. Mom had bought us books with matching totes. I looked it up and I believe they were Serendipity Books, and mine was Gabby.
I remember doing back to school shopping and loving going to the teacher store. I remember pulling down the bins of hand me downs and trying stuff on, and then putting on a fashion show for Dad when he got home. I remember Dad always greeting Mom with a kiss hello, and how happy they were to see each other. It was a genuine moment that fed my expectations of what love looks like. Much like Dad randomly bringing home flowers for Mom. I remember Mom taking care of everything. Constantly moving, constantly doing for others, again shaping my view of what love looks like. I remember looking through the giant Penny’s catalog with her when it would come in the mail. I remember snuggling in bed with Mom, she would always rub your head or your arm, always supplying that loving touch letting me know me she was there.
I remember dinners around our dining room table. Maybe the news would be on, Tom Brokaw mumbling softly in the background, but conversation would dominate the room. As well as chewing, and finally Dad would blow his nose to signal the end of dinner. It was a feeling of oneness, and family, something I think we excelled at when we all came together. There were no missing pieces, we were all there, safe and sound.
I remember a lot, and a lot of them are favorite memories. Though, with all that I remember, I feel like there are a million moments that either I’ve forgotten or didn’t think to add here. I can honestly say I have individual ties to each one of our core pieces. Strong bonds and memories that will last me forever. I am so blessed to have so much love and happiness in my lifetime to draw on, and can only hope to pass the same kind of life and joy on to my kids.
*Disclaimer: All memories are from my own point of view and can be regarded differently by other parties involved.