One of the more interesting aspects of a life on social media, is that it serves as a record-keeper. I don’t scrapbook, I never made memory books for my kids. I take so many pictures that sit on hard drives, waiting to be viewed, much less edited.
Of the many lessons that stuck with me from my favorite professor in college, Kip, one that really resonated is from C. S. Lewis' "God in the Dock" essay collections. In it, Lewis postulates that you cannot simultaneously describe and experience something. He is talking more about how the stories of Christianity came to be; how myths were born from a need to capture the intensity of an experience that cannot be put into words. It's true of parenting as well. These larger-than-life experiences that seem like they will forever be burned into our memories. But I know for me, I am so busy experiencing the thing that if I don’t stop while it is still fresh in my memory to make notes, the details start to slip away. I remember the emotions. The sensory experiences. But not the who-what-when-why-wheres. It's why we embellish stories when telling them years later.
I waited anxiously my sophomore year of college for my university to finally be included in facebook, so I could connect with friends at larger schools. I remember the slightly unsettling feeling years later when suddenly anyone could have an account. Now, I get memories from a year ago, ten years ago, and longer still than that. Sometimes the memories are pleasant, sometimes cringeworthy. Often I have no idea what I was even talking about if there isn’t a picture to accompany. Memories are less and less experiences and just vague feelings.
But it helps define the flow of time.
My memories of past Januaries are all over the place. I have a lot of pictures at the beach; spontaneous day trips with the kids when we still lived in Virginia, a lengthy road trip to Florida shoved into the 48 hours in between Billy’s shifts. And of course, last year from our limbo period; no longer in Tennessee, but not yet in Maine. If I didn’t have a calendar and pictures from social media to remind me, I don’t think I would know it was already a year ago.
I also have memories of snow. I shared one just a couple days ago, of a hike we took as a family in Richmond, when there was a considerable snowfall. In one of the comments someone left I responded with a note that the temperature never got out of the 20s—a cold day indeed, in central Virginia. I have hiking in the mountains, and I have the first time my kids ever stood on a frozen body of water.
This year, they went ice skating for the first time on a frozen body of water. Technically it was December, but as it was New Year’s Eve I’m counting it among my January memories—anything in that week between Christmas and New Year’s is fair game, after all. I sent one of the pictures to a few friends of mine from Virginia, with the caption: “I think having a snowball fight on a frozen lake while wearing ice skates is Peak Maine.” They laughed, some combination of appreciation and gratitude to still live further south.
My kids, however, loved every second of it. They have also loved using their snowboard and skis in our yard. They love watching the snow, and kicking balls of ice they see on the sidewalks, and sliding on their butts down the stairs on our deck. They love winter.
They love seasons.
It will be interesting in a few years when we are used to this, when winter is not a crap shoot of a foot of snow or still mowing the grass, when we aren’t planning beach trips in sub-freezing temperatures or planning camping trips in a tent with nothing more than an extra layer of blankets. When this is rote and expected and we no longer have the magic of novelty.
But for now, it's kind of nice having a true winter.