warning: this post contains a commercial that might make you cry

Two things:

1) It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything here, for which I apologize (not that you probably cared or noticed, but it seemed like a necessary formality).

Nothing particularly world-changing occurred during September. Still working, still cooking, and still invading my best friend’s apartment on a regular basis whenever my own house is ridiculously out of the way (for which I am forever grateful). The most eventful part of the month was a lovely road trip up to Paducah, Kentucky, to attend the wedding of a dear friend/former freshman year hallmate. It was beautiful, there were tacos, and I cried (at the ceremony, not the tacos).

2) Speaking of crying, that leads perfectly into my second thing for this post: THIS FRIGGIN’ VIDEO.

WHAT EVEN, Extra? Are you trying to make me sob?

But seriously, I’ve watched this video way more often than my heart can handle, and it makes me cry every single time. In fact, I start crying earlier and earlier upon each viewing (How’s that for a self-fulfilling prophecy?). But anyone with an emotional range greater than that of a teaspoon should at least tear up, so I don’t think I’m too strange on that count.

In case you are unaware, I am a massive memory pack rat. I have at least four (possibly five?) memory boxes under my bed at my parents’ house, dating back to preschool. For the earlier items, I blame my mother, but everything from fourth grade and on is my own responsibility. I still save movie ticket stubs, bags from stores I went to overseas, notes and drawings I’ve been given…basically anything that might hold a memory for me.

And hidden somewhere in one of those boxes is a zip-top bag full of small white notes, each one inscribed with a greeting, doodle, or sentiment. These notes made their appearances in my sandwich container nearly every day during fourth and fifth grade, courtesy of the superhero of a man I’m lucky enough to call “Dad” (though a few are from my incredible, wonderful, couldn’t-be-prouder-of-her mom, as well. Dad just happened to make the lunches more often back then.).

I have vivid memories of opening up my lunchbox, peeling open the lid of my sandwich container, and reading that day’s note. Often it was a simple “I love you,” sometimes a silly sketch, and occasionally a corny joke (my favorite).  On back-to-back Halloweens, my lunchbox notes bore the notation “Happy Reformation Day!” This message was a chore to explain to my classmates who didn’t yet know the difference between Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr., much less why the former was famous.

I am the girl in the gum commercial.  I may not know exactly what prompted me to keep the notes, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. Each time I rediscover that little bag, I re-read every note and smile because of the precious memories they hold.  Memories in your head are great, but tangible evidence of love and affection, even simple things like gum wrapper cranes and lunchbox notes, mean the world to kids. And those kids grow into kids-learning-to-be-adults, who grow into adults, who grow into adults-who-leave-notes-and-cranes-for-their-own-kids.

The tangible things are the physical reminders that jog our memories when we get too busy, the anchors that remind us of what’s important and valued. We can really, actually hold on to them. Age and hurry can’t rob us of those.

So basically I wrote all this as a thank you. Not just to my dad (who I know is reading this, so just think of it as a cure for your dry eyes instead of me making you cry for kicks and giggles), or my mom (who photographed every single moment of my pre-adolescent life, and as embarrassing as those pictures are, I am so grateful they exist), but to all the parents who take a bit of time to leave behind the little things for their kids.

So thank you. From all of us.

And happy Reformation day (27 days early).

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