Tag Archives: childhood

Do You Have a Memory That Stays with You? An Unimportant Moment You’ve Never Forgotten?

“Sometimes, very often, a moment all intact comes before my thoughts. It is an early evening in winter. The lamps are not yet lighted. My mother and two other women, finished with their tea, are sitting in the dusk beside the littered tea tray. I watch, and listen to them talk. Lights travel the river, travel the street; sometimes they brush more and softer lights across the ceiling. One of the women wears a sweeping hat. I see her as I saw her then: aquiline profile, dark eyebrow, earring made of pearls. Her hair is gray but she is young. Nobody can tell me her name, but how many hundred times, I wonder, for what reason I can never guess, have my thoughts returned that face to me, and with it the sight of the dim room, the lights brushing the ceiling, and the sound of women’s voices talking quietly because of the dusk. A moment lives again, and will again, and will forever, or at least as long as I do.”

–Elizabeth Enright, “The Walnut Shell, ” in Double fields: Memories and Stories

Do you have odd moments like this, that stick out in your memory for some reason, when other, far more important moments are forgotten?

I have several.

Side note: I’m so happy, because I love the children’s books written by Elizabeth Eright, but I only just discovered that she’s written a few books for adults, too. Enright was one of the very first names I added to my list of my 81 favorite works of children’s and young-adult literature. It took me a long time to decide which of her books was my very favorite.

Podcast 77: Go On an “Errand Date,” Deal with the Nasty Areas of Your House, and Handling Sentimental Items.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: A listener updates us on her theme for the year: “More Music.”

Try This at Home: Go on an “errand date.”

Happiness Hack: For people sharing a space, Erin suggests a hack that she used in college: each roommate had a bin,  so when anyone wanted to clean up, stuff just went in the bins.

Happiness Stumbling Block: Dealing with the nasty, smelly, sticky areas of our home. I write more about this in Happier at Home.

Listener Question: Elena asks about how to deal with possessions that have a lot of sentimental value.  Again, a big subject in Happier at Home. Here’s the link to the post I mention, about 7 Reasons I Disagree with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth never got around to sending a package to her niece Eleanor at summer camp.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I managed to give away our beautiful, beloved play kitchen.

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And if you want to take the Four Tendencies quiz, to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, it’s here.

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Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #77

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The Days Are Long, But the Years Are Short: It’s My Daughter’s Junior Prom.

My older daughter took her last exam today, and tonight is her Junior Prom. So my day is consumed with various tasks that I’ve been assigned.

It’s hard to believe she’s so grown-up! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The days are long, but the years are short.  Of everything I’ve ever written, I think that this one-minute video resonates most with people; my prom-goer is the little girl who loved to ride the bus.

I really appreciate these days. I know, now, how quickly time passes.

It’s funny: people who read The Happiness Project often forget that the book has been out for several years, and that Eliza has been growing that whole time.

If you want to hear a teenager’s view of the prom — and to hear about a new tradition, the “promposal” — you can listen to Eliza’s podcast, Eliza Starting at 16. Yes, Eliza has her own podcast! Crazy.

Did you go to a prom, when you were in high school? Happy memories — or not?

Have You Read the Book “Peter Pan?”

“John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents; but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood in a row you could say of them that they have each other’s nose, and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”

— J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

One day, when I think I’m finally ready, I’ll undertake the great challenge of my writing life: to write the book I’ve been thinking about for decades, Symbols Beyond Words.

And when I do, J. M. Barrie is going to be all over that book. If you haven’t read Peter Pan, read it. It’s not what you expect.

Carl Jung, Flannery O’Connor, C. S. Lewis but not J.R.R. Tolkien (except for Tom Bombadil), Elias Canetti, Virginia Woolf, The Golden Bough,  the movie The Piano, the writing of Bob Dylan (I never listen to his music), Robertson Davies tried so hard but never really got there…I have a long way to go before I can write that book.

Do You Have Any Toys from Childhood that Are Still Important to You?

Every Wednesday is List Day, or Quiz Day, or Tips Day.

This Wednesday: Do you have any toys from childhood that are still important to you? as well as a short list of well-beloved toys.

For some reason, I lay awake last night thinking about toys. Do you have any toys or “comfort objects” from childhood that are still important to you?

I have my Hambugins (my name for my ancient, decrepit doll which was a “Baby Huggums”) and Cocoa, my stuffed bear.

My sister has a Blankee which she still sleeps with, to this day.

I started making a list of famous examples of adults with their toys:

1. The most haunting loss of a doll — in On the Banks of Plum Creek, when Ma gives Laura’s beloved Charlotte to a bratty neighbor. Ma never did apologize to my satisfaction, though fortunately Laura did get Charlotte back. [Does anyone know if there’s basis for Charlotte and this story in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s real life?]

2. The Toy Story movies, of course — Toy Story Three! Oh my gosh. The fate of Andy’s toys.

3. Understood Betsy — old Aunt Abigail and her doll, Deborah. “You could tell by the way she spoke, by the way  she touched Deborah, by the way she looked at her, that she had loved the doll dearly, and maybe still did, a little.”

4. Brideshead Revisisted — who can forget Sebastian Flyte’s teddy bear, Aloysius?

What are some other prominent examples that I’ve overlooked?

For my whole life, I’ve been fascinated by people’s relationships to objects. I discuss this at some length in Happier at Home, and in a very different way, in my odd little book Profane Waste (what a joy it was to write that book).

I agree with Elaine Scarry, who wrote, in The Body in Pain,

“Perhaps no one who attends closely to artifacts is wholly free of the suspicion that they are, though not animate, not quite inanimate.”

And Adam Smith, who observed in The Theory of Moral Sentiments,

“We conceive…a sort of gratitude for those inanimated objects, which have been the causes of great or frequent pleasure to us. The sailor, who, as soon as he got ashore, should mend [build] his fire with the plank upon which he had just escaped from a shipwreck, would seem to be guilty of an unnatural action. We should expect that he would rather preserve it with care and affection, as a monument that was, in some measure, dear to him.”

My Hambugins is part of myself.

Do you feel that way about any old toy or artifact from your childhood? I used to wonder whether I should bother to keep these things around, but I’ve come to realize that such possessions (within reason) have an important role to play in a happy life.

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