Did you ever notice that, as adults, when we reflect back on our childhood some of the memories that make us smile or laugh out loud are the ones that were NOT necessarily so happy when we were actually going through them?
I remember our first family trip in 1972. I was 9 years old and finally going to Disney World. My parents, four siblings and I packed the family station wagon (with paneling), hopped on Interstate 75, and headed south to a destination designed to make memories that last a lifetime. Unexpectedly, a terrible thunderstorm storm met us in Kentucky and hitched a ride on our bumper all the way to Orlando. The worst lightning bolt struck hit when we attempted to check into our hotel and we were informed that our “confirmed” room was given away. “Get a sleeping bag and sleep under the stars.” We were told. It was 2AM! Where were we going to buy seven sleeping bags?!? My dad sat outside our packed car and cried. Oh happy day!
But nearly forty years later, it’s not Mickey Mouse that we recall with a smile but the nameless clown that threatened to destroy our trip.
I’m even starting to see this with my own children. When they take a walk down memory lane, they laugh about the “organic years” and the time I accidentally made my young son drink a whole glass of fresh carrot juice with ginger because he felt sick. He held his nose the whole time he gulped it down. Oh, happy day!
We’re still not sure it cured his illness but he never again complained about being sick! And ten years later, that young son is now a US Marine and the taste of ginger puts a smile on his face.
Without a doubt, we have our share of fun birthdays and trips to the zoo that were designed to make happy memories and we succeeded. But for some reason the happiest memories are the times we overcame adversity and grew closer together as a family. Oh happy day!