Monday, December 9, 2013

The essential ingredient of nostalgia

I used to think I had a strange childhood, but now I know everyone did. My parents may have been somewhat unconventional, but they were no more unconventional than most. What happens in any family can feel weird when compared to the rest of the world.

This holds true for me in most ways, except for movies. For most of my life I have been the only person I know, my age or younger, who didn't see The Sound of Music as a child. I have been the only one who didn't have misty memories and would break into song as soon as someone began to hum My Favorite Things. This hasn't been a burden or concern, but it has been a small differentiator. I did see lots of Bergman and other foreign films before I was ten. Like I said, it shows up in movies.

My beloved has, for the duration of our relationship, been dedicated to giving me experiences I didn't have as a child. I rode a roller coaster for the first time with him (loved it). We went skiing (meh). And this past week we watched The Sound of Music.

Far be it for me to criticize or praise the film. I don't have the haze of nostalgia everyone else seems to, glazing over whenever they see it, usually around Christmas. I do have that nostalgia for Fantasia and will go to the mats with anyone who criticizes it, so I understand the feeling.

I watched the movie with my sweetheart and adult step-kids. They all seemed enchanted. I enjoyed the experience but have no need to see it again.

I think there are things that we need to experience as children to have that hazy love as adults. If we don't have the lens of memory through which to re-experience them, we don't get hooked. It might be movies or games or particular traditions, but we need that childhood association for nostalgia to work. If we don't have that childhood memory it may be hard to connect with it. We need the memory of watching the movie with our parents or being read to or whatever it is for the present to glow in that vaseline-on-the-lens kind of way. The present has its own kind of glow, but it isn't nostalgia.

I certainly have nostalgia for some things that others don't feel nostalgic about. And I am learning to be patient with nostalgia I don't share. It is enough that those I love want to share these things with me.

What is nostalgic for you? What nostalgic moments do you just not get? I'd love to know. And, for the record, I am nostalgic about Fantasia, Narnia, being read to pretty much regardless of the topic, Casablanca, b-movies and more.

(As an end note, these nostalgic moments or lack thereof are great seeds for stories. Have fun!)

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Christopher Plummer freaks me out, so I've never seen "The Sound of Music" -- I know some of the songs just because once you get to a certain age you've soaked things up accidentally -- kinda like a sponge -- but in a MUCH more hygienic way. I love that your significant other works to give your inner child delights that were important to him as a child. [he sounds like a keeper]

    Nostalgia for me runs to things like remembering the wonder on my daughter's face the morning she walked outside with her purple lunchbox, had a snowflake land on the top and she looked up at me and said "Mom, look how beautiful this is! I thought they just DREW them like that!"

    *happy sigh*

  2. I do sing the brown paper packages thing song BUT I don't think I've ever seen the sound of music or fantasia or narnia or lotr etc etc


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