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Is Nostalgia A Sugar-Coated Memory?

Dec 16, 2007
Nostalgia is a longing for something far away or long gone - like the good old days. People talk fondly about times when things weren't rushed or stressed or expensive. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder - and the memory hazier. Back then - whenever then was - people didn't rush as much because they didn't have as many places to go. They stressed less because pharmaceutical companies didn't describe hard work as stress and things cost less because people couldn't afford more. Maybe people should talk fondly about the good old "daze".

Daze would describe much of my high school experience. Can anyone look at their yearbook pictures without laughing? I'm definitely not nostalgic about blue eye shadow or teased hair. What I miss is my innocence. I miss the time when my biggest problems were getting rid of pimples and getting hold of a push-up bra.

Then there are the pictures in my family albums and the do-you-remember-when's as I see how my sons have grown up. I know why these pictures make me feel warm and fuzzy. These pictures were taken on special occasions - not when I was at the pediatrician for the third time in one month or my son's teacher wanted another meeting with me or it was thirty minutes past the already-extended curfew.

Time is like a camera filter. It softens everything - like holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas make our cups runneth over with memories of family togetherness and happiness shared. The next time I spend hours making a Thanksgiving dinner that's consumed during half time or make endless trips to the mall for perfect Christmas gifts, I should remember what I'm really making our memories. Memories, like wine - the holiday wine I try to keep away from Cousin Walter - get better with time.

A mother with her newborn, a child learning to ride a bike, a teenage girl in her first formal, a bride and groom getting into a limo - these bring back memories. Sometimes these memories trigger other memories - 2am feedings, scraped knees, pimples on prom day and Cousin Walter tipping over the punch bowl - again.

Maybe it's safer to feel nostalgic about the former planet Pluto, the St. Christopher of the sky. In elementary school I might have forgotten Uranus, but I never forgot Pluto. Thankfully, Pluto's still at Disneyland. Thankfully, nostalgia's for the past. Today's for doing things to make me nostalgic tomorrow.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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