Family,  Stories

Remember that summer when …

The summer heat is on! For many families, that’s a cue to start packing for the beach or for a long-awaited visit to relatives in the province. But before taking off on that anticipated break, how about unpacking treasured memories of summers gone by? Like good food, those remembrances are great for sharing at the dinner table.

Except perhaps for babies and toddlers, every member of the family surely has a memorable summer story to share. It doesn’t have to be about your dream getaway—just things that summer brings to mind, like mouth-watering, sour-sweet green mangoes freshly picked from a tree, a cool and refreshing dip in a pool on a hot afternoon, watching the vibrant colors of a candlelit procession with cousins, taking part in a local basketball tournament, cooking latik-topped rice cakes with Lola, or selling thirst-quenching halo-halo or gulaman by the roadside.

Often, the simplest stories are the most profound and the richest in meaning. If you listen closely, those summer memories can yield new—and sometimes unexpected—discoveries about what each member of the family enjoys best and values most. Talk about places that have left an imprint on your minds. Think back on experiences that have made an impact on your lives. Recall people who have played a part—big or small—in your summer activities.

It’s Good for You
According to Shake Hocson, director of Guidance and Counseling at Far Eastern University, “When we recall and share memories, we become more aware of who we are now and who we were before.” She adds that reminiscing about summer memories during family meals is both beneficial and therapeutic because it allows individuals to share not just their early recollections but also their feelings, thoughts, and values, which is cathartic as tensions are relieved in the process. Such sharing also signifies that individuals find value and meaning in their experiences with the other people and family members who are part of these stories.

Talking about summer memories can rekindle the values that one holds dear and can be a means to teach important life lessons, such as making good use of the gift of time and appreciating the little things in life. Going back to the simple joys of past summers can also be an opportunity to remind the members of the family that even seemingly boring activities can be memorable and that priceless memories do not have to cost a fortune.

Bonds that Last
Reminiscing and reflecting on the lessons gained through past experiences connect and bind family members in more meaningful and satisfying ways, especially at meal times, says Shake. This helps strengthen the family bonds by serving as an icebreaker, a fun way to start off a conversation, allowing members of the family to reconnect by talking—and even laughing—about their looks, gestures, and antics when they were younger.

Moreover, memories of past summers can rekindle love and affection among family members, which may have changed over time due to the complexities of life. For some, that special bond with certain family members may have grown stronger; for others, that connection may have had few chances to flourish. Rekindled by memories, individuals may reflect on whether they want to restore or improve those relationships and how to go about doing so.

“One of my special memories of summer was spending time in Baguio with my family, including my father and eldest brother, both of whom have passed on,” recalls Shake. “I was seven years-old, with apple-cut hair and a few teeth. I always wore a red or yellow skirt—my mother’s favorite. I was very excited because it was my first time to go to Baguio; we rarely went out as a family then because my parents were always busy with work. We had our family picture taken at the lion landmark on the way to Baguio, had a great time bonding at the various sites in the city, and also attended Mass at the Baguio Cathedral. During those days, my father taught me to play board games, while my mother took me to the market and taught me how to cook. I learned five important lessons from that experience: first, that God, family, and friends are everything; second, to take joy in the little things; third, that family bonding is always the best; fourth, to never leave anyone behind, especially your family; and last, that sharing is caring and loving. Those are life lessons that I treasure until now.”

Sweet and Strong
The sharing of summer memories can greatly enrich family meals, especially when gratitude is the thread that runs through all the reminiscing that takes place. By nurturing an attitude of thanksgiving, the family can learn to appreciate simple blessings and find contentment more easily.

Moreover, remembering past experiences keeps memories alive in a family. Sharing about them builds closeness and a sense of unity among the members. Reflecting on these recollections brings out meaningful insights and valuable lessons. By remembrance, sharing, and reflection, the family can preserve sweet summer memories, which, like superglue, can help keep the family strongly bonded in times of bright sunshine, dark clouds, and even heavy rains.

Taking off from those summer memories, your family can plan future bonding activities. In fact, this can be the topic of your next family meal.

Some bonding ideas:
* Have a sports activity, like biking together or taking swimming lessons.
* Learn to play a musical instrument.
* Work on your yard or renovate a space in your home.
* Go on a pilgrimage to different churches.
* Do a good deed together: think of people around you who need help or cheering up.

* Not everyone will want the same thing, so listen with openness and respect.
* Keep expectations reasonable because not all wishes are easy to fulfill.
* Focus on what is doable given your time and resources.
* Pray together: thank God for the gifts of family and time, and lift up your plans to Him.


Richie Tolentino

A freelance writer and editor, Richie Tolentino is particularly fond of stories for children. She likes to tinker around the house - rearranging furniture, reorganizing closets, and finding new uses for old stuff. She loves to read, watch movies, travel, and take leisurely breakfasts. She and her husband Bong are members of a Catholic community for families.

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