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Ordinary Moments Become Our Extraordinary Memories

Financial Journey (featured column)
by Karen Kuebler

One night, several years ago, my husband and I were spending a pleasant evening with my parents enjoying a great dinner and playing a game of Pictionary. My Mom said something quite profound that has stayed with me all of these years. Her words, “Do you realize that right this minute we are creating a special memory?”
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I have thought about my Mom’s words many times as I recount many happy memories that have been created during my lifetime. What impresses me even more is that my favorite memories didn’t cost any money! We’ve spent countless dollars at expensive restaurants, plays, movies, and other dates over the years, but those times aren’t the ones that come to mind when I think of extraordinary memories.

My special memories come from the simplest of moments and days in my life. These are the stories I would tell my children and grandchildren when I am older and reflecting about my life. The following are just a few of these recollections.

As a young girl, my Dad used to take my sister and I with him on his Sunday trips to the dumps. I do remember some pretty raunchy odors, but the time spent with my Dad was the memorable part of these trips. While we would wait in line to get in, he would tell my sister and I the most fantastic stories. He made stories come alive with his enthusiasm and entertaining ways. I don’t remember the stories, but I sure hold the memory of those dates to the dumps close to my heart. After my husband and I married, he was confounded because I never wanted him to go to the dumps without me!

My Mom had an unusual way of celebrating Mothers Day when I was growing up. She always had the family work in the yard pulling weeds and planting flowers. When our work was done we would buy some take-out chicken and delicious tater tots from a local diner – Speedy’s Broasted Chicken.

It was the one day she could choose the activity she most wanted to do, and since the yard tended to be a mess, this was her chance to get the weeds pulled and a little order to the front of the house. As a young girl, I dreaded it and viewed it as a day of sweat and toil! Now, not only do I understand “why” she chose that activity, but the memories are extremely fond recollections of Mother's Days past.

My most memorable birthday was celebrated a couple years after my husband and I were married. He told me to dress for a casual day, then he blindfolded me and put me in the car. He drove to all of our unique places that we had been for special dates before we were married. He brought our camera with the self-timer and memorialized our dates with pictures that we never had during our courting days.

We had the most fun that day, and the only cost was gasoline and a light lunch from one of our favorite places we had frequented when dating – I hate to admit to this, but it was Kentucky Fried Chicken! We would buy it and take it to a secluded wooded park that was really beautiful. I couldn’t tell you where we went to dinner or how we celebrated most of my other birthdays, but that is the one I’ll never forget.

One morning when my older son was about 10 years old, my husband and I woke up to the sweetest surprise. We headed into the kitchen to get our breakfast, and my son had set the table and had our breakfast all ready for us. It was a simple breakfast of cold cereal, but the memory that was so precious to me was the way he had set the table. It was a small table, pushed against a wall with three chairs – one on each of the remaining three sides of the table. Because he honored the close relationship that my husband and I have, he had moved the chairs around the table so that our two chairs were side by side! I don’t think our son remembers that morning, but we will never forget it.

We bought our first video camera a few years ago and filmed our cat, Jennyfur, going about her ordinary activities. We followed her around the house, calling her name and taping her doing nothing in particular – but to us, everything she did was cute. The video clip ended with her walking down the hallway and into the room with her favorite chair where she settled for a nice nap.

Later we were playing the video through our television screen and she heard my husband calling her name on the video clip turning her attention to the television. She observed a strange cat staring back at her and then trotting down the hallway and jumping into HER chair! She bolted out of the room like her tail was on fire and spent the next two hours scouring the house for this strange cat until she finally decided it must have left. Jennyfur lived to be over 20 years old – she has left some very special memories in our hearts.

I could recount numerous stories of the simple, ordinary moments that continue to bring joy, warmth, and laughter when I think about them. Each one of us has these very same ordinary moments throughout our days that create extraordinary memories. Remember that every minute you spend at work, at play, with a friend or a loved one will be a memory in your future. By learning to enjoy the ordinary moments as they are happening, you will truly multiply the joy in your life.

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