Our culture has a problem with nostalgia.
I like to say “our culture,” because, to be honest, I don’t want to just say it’s myself. So maybe it isn’t “our culture” as much as it is me. I have a nostalgia problem.
Have you ever heard of nostalgia as being a problem? I hadn’t. I mean, I had heard of people living in the past, and that’s not me. I am loving this stage of life. I love being in my mid-30s. I love having a husband, a house, two kids, and a job. High school sucked, my college years were grand (but I was an idiot), and while being a newlywed is fun and all, being married for a long time to your best friend is AMAZING. So living in the past is not my problem.
It’s the things that come from my past that’s the problem.
Pictures – I love pictures. I have boxes of pictures in my house. Seriously. Professional pictures, pictures I’ve taken, drawings that my kids have made (but my 5-year-old will be a world famous artist one day, so I’m really just saving up for my retirement).
I’m sentimental about things people give to me. My children will forever have loads of stuffed animals from important people in their life. I have friends who have given me coffee mugs that I will use until they shatter into a million pieces because I love those people.
I recently was cleaning out the girls’ rooms and getting clothes ready to sell at a consignment event I town, and I remembered how hard it was to get rid of certain clothes – clothes that my dad had bought for The Artist before he was to sick to do so. A gown Kyle and I bought The Artist on her first journalism work trip with us. A boutique outfit my aunt had bought The Artist. (Sorry, The Engineer usually ends up with hand-me-downs.)
It’s not so much that I love those things – I love the memories attached to them.
And that’s okay – to a point. It’s good to have good memories and to have a few things in our house that remind us of good times. When Kyle and I moved into our current house, I framed the keys from our previous two houses and put what address those houses were and how long we lived at each place. Because those houses held such good memories.
But I get so caught up in those things – things that I can’t take with me once I die. I love the idea of minimalism, but I am awful at adhering to it. I don’t want to let go of things. I can love things, but things can’t love me.
I got to thinking about these things reading about Lot’s wife – yeah, the one who was turned into a pillar of salt because she turned around. She just turned around.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? When we turn around, we reminisce. And while that can be good to a certain point, getting overly attached to things isn’t. No matter who got them for us. No matter what memories are attached.
I have a friend who lost her wedding pictures in Hurricane Katrina. She got married so many years ago that she wasn’t able to procure a copy. She was devastated, of course, but she realized those things were just that – things. The marriage and child she had with her husband – that mattered. The pictures, while they were very, very special, really did not.
I don’t want to spend my time looking back at pictures or clothes or belongings and miss my kids growing up – sliding down on the slide, running down our backyard hill, or jumping on the bed. I don’t want to hold so much attachment to what they wore or their favorite doll that I lose sight of their imagination, their laughter, or their hugs.
Because, as cliché as it sounds, every moment – present, past, and future – is a gift.