What Are You Grateful For? Memories, of Course!

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Nostalgia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Many psychologists once viewed nostalgia as a bad thing and counseled us to avoid it. They labeled it a form of escapism — or living in the past. New research, however, suggests that simply recalling happy memories benefits us almost as much as the moments themself.

What’s more, nostalgia keeps us grounded, boosts our memory, and provides us with perspective.  The claims go on to say re-living special moments boosts mood, inspires hope, and creates feelings of warmth.

A favorite Facebook feature is the “On This Day” memory. Admit it, these photos usually bring a smile and deep-down warm and fuzzy feelings. I am grateful for my memories.

But we don’t always need a physical picture to remind us of special moments. We carry many in our hearts.

Today, with eyes closed, I waded through the recesses of my mind, recalling joy-filled moments as my fingers captured them via the keyboard.  I didn’t overthink the memories; I simply recorded what surfaced. When finished, three main categories emerged from the jumbled mess: Childhood, Motherhood, and Last Week.

I share a few of the memories I’m grateful for below and encourage you to try this. Jotting your memories on paper, rather than typing, may be even better.

Motherhood

  • The tender nape of my son’s neck as he bent over his beginning reader to decipher the words printed there
  • “That was nice of you to hold the door open for me, Mommy,” my three-year-old piped in her adult voice as we entered the house after her day at preschool.
  • The time I was called from a conference to take a phone call. It scared me senseless until I heard my sad, seven-year-old urging me to hurry home because she needed me.

My Childhood

  • Going with friends after basketball practice to a little rural store for my favorite snack: chocolate milk, a honey bun, and Fritos.
  • Summer days with my sister watching for the Book Mobile bringing us new treasures to read.

Last Week

  • The sun melting and spreading like butter as it sank below the horizon over the Atlantic.
  • The wit, honesty, and energy of five grandkids as they show me life through their eyes.

While it’s important to live in the moment, taking time out to recall sweet memories of days gone by benefits us in multiple ways. We’re not dwelling in the past when the moments are ones we cherish. Remembrances can be a trigger to prayer as The Message translates:

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.

Philippians 1:3-5 (MSG)

So go ahead, look at those old photos. It’s good for your health and fills you with gratitude.

Father,

Thank You for the memories of those I hold dear. Memories are one of Your sweetest blessings and help keep us connected to each other through our years on earth.

What special memories are you grateful for?

While it's important to live in the moment, taking time out to recall sweet memories of days gone by benefits us in multiple ways. Remembrances can be a trigger to prayer. #memories #nostalgia Click To Tweet

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19 Comments

  1. Precious memories! One that came to my mind was when my seven year old daughter left me a voicemail and said she forgot to tell me before I left that she loved me. Thank you for reminding me of that special moment!

  2. Memories are important and very fragile and can be emotional. Of course we need to learn and go on from the harder memories and relish in the beautiful memories. I have very special memories all throughout my life which happened in my childhood, school and college years, my marriage, the birth of our four children and many more, I love your idea of thanking God for the people in your life when you think of them.

  3. Yes! I resonated so well with your post. My husband loves to go over memories intentionally. I used to do that much more when the children were little. After reading your post I think I likely should renew that practice. There is benefit in remembering. Scripture talks about it often. Thanks for “reminding” me!

  4. Candyce, your post refreshed so many similar memories. Thank you for highlighting the value of memories. We don’t look back to the point of missing the present, but precious memories remind us of blessings, teach us lessons, and enrich the present. Thank you.

  5. I am so thankful for photo albums, boxes full of my kids old schoolwork, and decades old newspaper clippings that remind me of special ceremonies. Memories are important or God wouldn’t have given us a memory. Proverbs 10:7 says, “The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.”
    Thanks for sharing your nostalgia, Candyce. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Thank you, Barbara. We can find reason to offer thanksgiving for all memories, both good and bad, because God was at work by our side through them all. I was glad to read the research saying nostalgia is good for us. As long as we balance it with living in the now and continue to make more memories, it’s okay to indulge on occasion.

  6. Recently, I’ve been overwhelmed by memories of departed loved ones. I’m experiencing the full gamut of emotions from sorrow to joy. But memories are precious and we are blessed to be able to store them and recall. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving (one to remember!)

  7. Thank you for a lovely post about how special memories can be and to be thankful to God for them! I loved the description of your memories, especially the sun melting and spreading like butter as it sank below the horizon.

    1. Thank you Kathy. Memories grow even more important with the passage of time. Isn’t it amazing how we can take them with us. The brain is a wonderful thing, but then we are “wonderfully made” by Him.

  8. You are right about Facebook memories being a favorite feature. Many of the posts I make, I make for the purpose of reliving them as memories in years to come. Especially pictures of my grandchildren.

    Remembering the good times does foster a heart of thankfulness.

  9. I love my memories. My childhood, my grade school friends, my high school friends, my college friends and all the friends since then. My family memories are every special. Thank you for making me remember!!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Gloria. Memories should not be taken for granted and grow even more precious with time. They are definitely high on my gratitude list, and I plan to keep “making memories.”

  10. Oh, how I enjoyed this post Ms. Candyce. As I read it, I could see why you are the sweet, gentle, genteel woman of God I believe you to be. What wonderful memories to hold onto. Given that over 90 percent of the thoughts we have are actually memories triggered in our minds, I’m surprised that any doctor would suggest living with our memories is bad for us. While not all memories in my life are good ones, God has helped me to make peace and both seek and give forgiveness. While the bad memories remain, He has removed the pain associated with them. But oh, those good memories. How precious they are to my life, and they become richer and worthwhile the older they become. God’s blessings and Happy Thanksgiving sweet friend.

    1. Amen. True, some memories hurt but with Him we find peace. I didn’t know your stat – that over 90% of our thoughts are triggered by our memories. I certainly believe it though. Thanks for continuing to teach me. God’s blessings to you J.D.

  11. I couldn’t help but smile as I read your post knowing what’s coming up at noon in our Creative Pauses group. 🙂 Recalling the blessings of God and remembering them in our prayers is a beautiful act of worship. I loved your post. It stirred up some of my own sweet memories. Blessings!

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