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Playing trains and making memories

My grandbabies are at the other end of the continent since my son is now stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska. While nothing can replace being able to give them a big hug, technology has made it possible to stay connected. We usually use the FaceTime app on our desktop computer since that gives a big image of the children. However, quite by happenstance I learned mobility is also a good asset when speaking to a three-year-old.

Once I answered the FaceTime call on my cell phone. My granddaughter, who is 3 1/2 years old asked me if we had any toys. Well, as a matter of fact we do! Cell phone in hand, I trooped down to the basement and started pulling out the Rubbermaid totes filled with wooden blocks, Duplo, and most importantly, trains! Over the course of four children we amassed a large tote filled with all sorts of curved, straight, inclined, and forked wooden train track pieces. It was compatible with the Brio sets, but was made by an American company, T.C. Timber. We also have a smaller tote filled with various trains, bridges, stations, and other special accessories. Some of the trains are from the Thomas the Tank Engine series.

My granddaughter and I then spent at least 30 minutes inventorying my trains. She also has some Thomas the Tank engine wooden trains so she carefully compared what I had to what she had. We went over the names of all of our engines. I am amazed at how much I remember about Thomas the Tank Engine after all these years. The next time we spoke, she wanted to play trains again. So it was back to the basement to build a little train set and glide Thomas and his friends over the hills and through the tunnels. We have done this a couple more times.

She is now at the age that this could be a lasting memory. Whether or not she holds on to these train sessions forever, I know they will always be cherished memories for me! Which made me start thinking about family memories. When I think about my own childhood as well as the years when my own children were younger, I realized that some of the most precious and vivid memories were spontaneous, unplanned events. Even when we took big family vacations like a three-week camping trip up and down the East Coast, the most poignant memories are not awe-inspiring monuments and tourist attractions. Instead, they are the funny, tender, or exciting family interactions that could have taken place in our own back yard just as easily.

Back in the day when we put film in our cameras, Kodak had an ad campaign that spoke of "Kodak moments". Over the years I have learned that we can't really stage those "Kodak moments" and some of life's most significant moments cannot be captured through the lens of a camera. Sometimes, in fact many times, we need to forget about the messy hair, the cluttered countertops, the dusty tables, and the piles of laundry. We need to just be present to each other , listen to each other, and embrace the moment, even when the moment is not going to win any photography awards. The lovely scrapbooks we make are certainly treasures, but there is a lot of life that doesn't show up on those pages. Sometimes, the desire to chronicle life and preserve memories gets in the way of actually living life and making memories


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