Nothing like a trip back to your childhood hometown to re-spark the magic of your youth and give your soul a face-lift.
|Little Italy, NYC|
I grew up in New York. Born in Brooklyn, my family moved to Long Island when I was just five years old. But one thing was consistent. I was always surrounded by a large, loving, Italian-American family and my childhood is filled with memories of family gatherings and unique cultural experiences - such as stomping on grapes grown in my backyard to help my grandfather make his own wine.
This week, while visiting my sister on the Island, we watched some old video footage (which a cousin converted to DVD) of my family - all 30 of us - crammed in the basement of my grandmother's Brooklyn home on Christmas Eve. We estimated that the footage must have been from the mid-80s.
It was wonderful to "see" my family again, back in the setting that was such a huge part of my childhood. My sons enjoyed seeing their aunts and me, as well as their grandparents, all of us 30 years younger. They even got to witness MY grandmother doing a brief sample of the chicken dance. Seeing her again brought tears to my eyes. These were good times.
While here, we were able to spend a few days in the city - which my sons endearingly call Manhattan. I enjoyed walking through Little Italy with my mom who would point out things she remembered from HER childhood. We did silly touristy things, like one of those harbor boat tours, and I took my mom down to the 911 Memorial and Museum - her first time back to that area. It was gut wrenching for her and for me, as it is every time I go down there. Of course, my sons partook in a Mr. Frostee ice-cream cone! Out on the Island, we even went strawberry picking in Wading River - something I did every season as a child.
One of the best parts of coming "home" is seeing old friends. There are those I've stayed in touch with all these decades and see regularly. Occasionally, I am able to squeeze in a visit with someone I haven't seen since high school (thank you social media) - which happened this time around. It always amazes me how people from childhood tend to stay a part of you even if you haven't seen them since you were kids. There is a certain connection to a time and place that doesn't diminish. I think the older one gets the more meaning these encounters have.
|Strawberry picking - Lewin's Farm|
Tomorrow I plan on taking my sons to my old neighborhood to see the house and neighborhood I grew up in as well as my old schools. They've seen them before but were much younger and probably don't remember. A couple of years ago, my husband took our oldest son to his hometown and this July will be doing the same with our youngest. I think it is important that parents share their childhood with children whenever possible.
As much as I try to create childhood memories for my children that are as memorable as mine are, I often feel that I am failing in this regard. Times are different now, it is more difficult. Family is separated by hundreds of miles and rarely see each other. There seems to be less traditions. Who knows? Maybe when my sons are older they will look back and recall these days with the same fondness I feel about my past. Just because it is different than my childhood, doesn't mean it isn't as special.
How do you share your past with your children?
Read more of my blog here.