The Big 150: 9, Life - What’s your happiest memory from your childhood?
Ah, childhood. So many wonderful memories. And yet, I sit here wondering which is the happiest. I almost feel like I don’t have a ton of memories from childhood, but I think it’s perhaps how I’m defining “childhood.” I can vividly remember many things from, say, the 5th grade onward, but many things before that feel like a blend of feelings as opposed to memories. So maybe instead of one happiest memory, I’ll just recall some of the fun and happy things I remember from being a kid.
First off, one of the truly great circumstances of childhood was being able to ride my bike to my best friend’s house. We lived just around the corner from each other on the side of town where most kids didn’t live (this is not a weird ‘other side of the tracks’ story.. our town just had a busy highway cut through it that we weren’t allowed to cross, and most kids lived on the other side of it because most of the town’s land was on the other side). Being able to reach Bianca has been a recurring theme in my life. We lived around the corner from each other growing up, our parents had beach houses across the street from each other in Ocean City, and now when I’m home, she’s a lovely, scenic 12 minute walk away. She’s been a part of every stage of my life, and the older I get, I realize more and more just how valuable it is to have a friendship like ours. She’s been my bestie for over two decades, and now she has given me a new bestie that has only slightly replaced her on the bestie scale (shoutout to her son/my bestie Grady Shark doo doo doo doo doo doo). Many memories in childhood and adulthood involve her, and I am a happier person because of it.
Another happy memory would have to be when my childhood basketball team won the Presidents’ Day tournament at Vaughan Hall. It was the first time my town had ever won, so it was a special thing to be a part of; I’m pretty sure we had a whole ceremony at town hall and everything. We even had matching jackets, so that was pretty sweet.
I sang several solos in middle school chorus, but I was especially excited when my music teacher/chorus director let me choose my own song without help and then approved “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music (if you don’t know how much I love TSOM, let me just tell you that it’s like a lot).
I could say that getting elected Student Council VP or President were super happy memories, but what I really learned from winning both those elections is that I enjoyed the collaborative ‘governing’ process more than I liked campaigning. Campaigning felt sales-y, which, obviously, it is (and there’s nothing wrong with sales), but the actual work after getting voted in was the part I really enjoyed.
From actual little-kid-Johny childhood, I have really fond memories of times spent with my grandparents. There were Easter egg hunts in Nana and Pop Pop’s backyard, which, looking back, was tiny, and I have no idea how they tricked so many kids with those hunts. See, Nana and Pop Pop were Irish Catholic, which means I have a ton of cousins. There were also Philadelphia Phantoms games at the Spectrum with Pop Pop, Dad, and cousins, too, as well as Notre Dame football Saturdays. Nana and Pop Pop’s house was filled with love and so many family get-togethers with cold cut spreads and lots of snacks. Plus, Nana didn’t make fun of me when all I wanted was mustard sandwiches (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like: literally yellow mustard on white bread).
And Mom Mom and Pop Pop’s house was full of love, too. I have a lot of wonderful childhood memories with Mom Mom - including lobster and popovers at Jordan Pond in Bar Harbor, Maine, as well as a trip to Acadia National Park (so excited for my Nat’l Parks/Knitting Mashup). But one of my absolute favorite memories was when I visited Mom Mom’s house as a little girl with my parents and I asked Mom Mom if I could have some coffee (see, my Mom Mom drank coffee and did the NYTimes Crossword in pen, so if there was ever a woman I wanted to be, it was Mom Mom). My mom said no because she felt I was too young, at which point Mom Mom turned to her and said, “my grandbaby can have whatever she wants at Mom Mom’s house.” So Mom Mom poured me a mug of coffee and I sat with her at the table, doing my best to help her with the NYTimes Crossword. Side note: I didn’t actually like the coffee after I took two sips of it, but the fact that Mom Mom let me have it made me want to just hold onto it and pretend. I said it before and I’ll say it again - if there was ever a woman I wanted to be, it was Mom Mom.
So as you can see, a lot of happy memories, and these feel like they really only skim the surface. My parents, of course, always say things like, “remember that time you did this or said that?” And a lot of the time I don’t remember because memory works in weird, interesting ways. But if they remember those things and it makes them happy, then that’s all that matters, really.
So is there a lesson for today? Sure. I think it’s that every childhood probably has at least a few good memories - meaningful friendships, proud accomplishments, happy family celebrations, or a grandparent allowing a little healthy rebellion. (by the way, I’m an avid coffee drinker now, I do Crosswords in pen, and, also like Mom Mom, I knit… so, really, I like to think that my dream of becoming like Mom Mom is coming true.) Of course we all have some memories from childhood that aren’t great, either (is it just me or were 7th grade girls just huge a-holes?). You have to take the good with the bad, and I hope for you, the good outweighs the bad tenfold.
To being a Minor League hellion with Mom Mom’s healthy rebellion,
ICYMI: The Big 150