Shirley Temple died yesterday. It wasn’t a surprise; the curly-haired little girl who sang and danced her way into people’s hearts was 85. What did surprise me was how sad it made me.
You see, my grandmother lived with us when I was growing up, and one of our favorite things to do together was to watch Shirley Temple movies when they were on TV. In the day and age before cable TV, Saturday afternoons were often a time for networks to broadcast old movies. Shirley Temple movies were a regular fixture. My grandmother and I would sit and watch them together, whether we had seen them before or not. Our favorite was “The Little Princess.”
When I heard the news that Shirley Temple had died yesterday, a little piece of my heart broke for that piece of my childhood that was gone forever. And all day, I was struck by how important the little pieces of our childhoods are.
We took a lot of big vacations when I was growing up. We had a lot of really cool “experiences,” but the things that I remember most, the things that I hold most dearly, are the little things. Shirley Temple movies on Saturday morning. Sneaking into my grandmother’s room on Friday night to watch “Dallas.” Waking up early in the morning to go on a family bike ride. Trips downtown to watch the Bruins play hockey. Family games of Dutch Blitz.
Those little moments that no one really thinks about are often the biggest memory-makers for our kids. Those are the things they’re going to remember. Those are the things that remind them that they are loved. Those are the moments when they learn about God, faith, family, and character.
You can read book after book and blog after blog about how to make memories with your kids. You can plan big birthday parties, go on big vacations, travel with a sports team, or schedule a playdate for every day of the week, but it’s the small, quiet moments that are going to matter. It’s the hundreds of times you’ve played Pretty, Pretty Princess. It’s the games of knee hockey. It’s the quiet conversations in the car. It’s the moments spent watching a movie. It’s the short notes in their lunchboxes. Those are the things that tell our kids we love them. Those are the moments that create memories.
Don’t stop making the big memories, going on the big vacations, planning the big events. Just keep in mind that the little moments are equally important in letting our kids know we love them. They are the ones that will be remembered.