Little things can be SO BIG!!!

Sometimes, when you go to gift shop for someone, you realize that there is nothing they want for or need.  In many cases,  my parents are those people… My dad doesn’t like “new fangled things”, “doesn’t need anything” and then wonders why everybody buys him books.  My mom on the other hand, doesn’t need anything either, but she is always fun for me to spoil, so I always buy her a pair of Uggs in the latest coolest color (she loves those boots).

Well, a few years back, I had an idea.  I was feeling “sentimental”, which on this very blog I have quite recently accused myself of.  It seems this feeling comes over me often.   Christmas was quickly on its way, and if you are living about 2300 miles and 3 time zones away from a gift recipient… forethought is a must.  You need to get those packages in the mail at least 10 business days before the actual holiday.  I was short on time and shopping ideas, so I did something that to this day I am pretty proud of.  I put a pen to paper and took a walk down memory lane and wrote down some of my best childhood memories.


I took cardstock and stamped the outside of each little note.  These were then placed into a glass jug.  I don’t have a picture of the jug, but it was a something that my dad had been searching stores for with no luck.

Now that I am also a parent, I can see how the little things that both my mom and dad did when I was growing up has made a big impact on me as an adult.  We all do it one day when you are driving and the kids are in the backseat arguing, you look in your rearview mirror and say sternly “do I have to stop this car?” It’s then that you realize that you are in fact turning into your mother.   Not only those kinds of things we emulate from our parents, but things like- how I fold my sheets and towels, just like my momma and how I remember  to tighten a screw in the correct direction- something I learned from my dad “lefty loosey, righty tighty”.  It always works…

I share this idea with you because, I think this is worth you trying, if you have good memories, that you want to remind your parents/family or friends of, and you need a very personal, creative gift this is something to try.   It really is priceless.


I was always sick with an upset stomach when I was a kid and I put my mom through hell.

As a kid I never made it to the bathroom when I threw up- so that is what this note is about.  My poor mom!  I did get the same treatment back from my son Kenny- he once threw up from the top bunk of his bunk bed over the side, and it went EVERYWHERE!!

Once I started writing I realized, wow- I have some pretty awesome memories.  Some memories made me laugh, like the one above.  I also felt empathy for my mom, now that I know how gross it is to deal with vomit.


Some made me wonder, will my kids have childhood memories that they will carry on into adulthood.  My dad, a handy one he is built a stage in our barn where my sister and I would perform shows for family members (our poor family).  Tammy had all the talent, I just went along for the ride.  He also built an “ice skating rink” with visqueen and 2×4’s (it was really like a very large frozen puddle, but I loved it).  It was big enough for me to do my skating twirls, small enough that I couldn’t catch too much speed.


My dad made what we called a “dune buggy” our of an old VW Volkswagen.  It was topless and went really fast through the back 20 acres of my mom and dads farmland.

The rule when I went swimming was that I could not go any deeper than the height of my belly button.  I have also used this as a measure for my boys when they go swimming.

I must have had 30- 40 of these little handwritten notes.  As I was writing them, vivid memories of my childhood came rushing back.  It was quite the trip.

What really surprised me was that my mom and dad sent back a container with their memories of my childhood.  Things that I hadn’t even thought of, and things they remembered quite differently than me.


My poor parents, sitting through what must have been very excruciating concerts.  The many hours of me practicing my coronet, playing  the same song over, and over and over again.  UGH!  Sorry about that mom and pops!


Yes, my mom was like a cab driver driving to and fro.  We didn’t live close to the school either.  My mom sat through countless tennis matches (I played tennis), and many football and basketball games that both my sister and I cheered for.  She never looked bored and she never complained.


Now this one about chickens?  I don’t remember it this way.  I didn’t know my grandmother brought chickens to us.  I remember having chickens, and getting eggs.  I also remember my mom and dad trying to raise the chickens for the actual chicken.  I don’t know if this was the same bunch of chickens, I am thinking probably not.  At any rate the chicken we raised for poultry turned out to be a nightmare and it was something my mom and dad decided to “never do again!”


I did love it so when my Grandma Carscadden would come and stay with us.  When my uncles and aunts were younger they would come along with her.  I was quite young when they were that young.  I seem to remember watching some old 8mm home movies in black and white of Hughy, Jimmy, Candy and Carolyn playing softball at our home when I was in my mom’s arms at about 6 months old.  The four of them would get into some shenanigans, causing trouble as kids.  My Aunt Candy was always the favorite, because she told the best scary stories about the Johnstown flood and she made the prettiest doll clothes for our Dawn Dolls.

There were so many other stories told in each one of their notes.  Given that my dad is such a horrible communicator when it comes to how he feels about me, these little scraps of paper I think, were his way of telling me that he loves me and he has been “present” in  my life.  It made me realize that even though they were parents with young kids and in the thick of it, (like we are now), they still paid attention to things that happened. Weather they were big things or small things.  Do you ever think about what our kids will remember when they are older?  What will be a good memory for them.  Things that make you say hmmmmmm.

Anyhow folks, have a good rest of the week, make some good memories for the kidlets.  Our youngest, Will is having a walkathon at his school tomorrow.  Parents are invited to tag along, so Jim and I will be joining Will in San Francisco, gosh, I hope we don’t have to walk any outrageously steep hills.  I’ll DIE!!


  1. Having been to your parents house and farm property with you and our own boys many times over the years, I know what a special place it is and how it must be just ripe with memories for you every time you go back to visit. I love spending time there with you – exploring the barn, sledding with our boys, walking to Hell and back, and hearing your stories about growing up there. I’m truly blessed to have met you, and to spend my life with you now, creating these sorts of memories for Kenny and Will. Xoxo, Jim.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this, Tracey. It’s going to be a tight Christmas and I have been trying to think of something we can do that doesn’t require much crafting skill. Love it!

  3. Tracey, I stole this idea for my husband’s Noni, who has been like a grandmother to me for the past 25 years. A tight budget this year and the impossible task of getting a 96 year old woman something she actually needs/wants made this the perfect gift. I reached out to the whole family over Facebook and got so many favorite memories to share. Noni laughed and cried, and hopefully will enjoy my little box of memories for a long time yet. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Oh Sandy, this totally made my day! Thank you so much for posting this. This is why I do this, to share ideas, to get ideas, to make friends and to reach out. I am so happy that your family and friedns helped with your memory jar- It is such a wonderful way to remember all those special moments that make us who we are today! Happy New Year! xoxo

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