Person #1: I wanna go get some boardwalk fries.
Person #2: Yeah, I love them so much. And every time we go to the beach, I gotta have Grotto Pizza.
Person #3: Every time we sing “Precious Mem’ries,” I think of my grandmother.
Person #4: Oh, yeah, man. I love those good old “hymns.” “Tempted and Tried” and “Bringing in the Sheaves” are some of my favorites.
Person #5: They don’t make cars like they used to. I really loved my old Dodge Colt.
Person #6: I know, right? I mean, I’d rather have my uncle’s 1979 Nissan 280Z than my 2006 Ford Escort any day. That 280Z was a car!
~ ~ ~
Recently, I’ve been treated to mounds of e-mail notifications from nostalgic Facebook groups. There was the “You remember Wilmington when …” flurry, and I personally participated in some Camp Manatawny rememberings. Songs we used to sing, crazy games, funny sights like boxers up a flagpole and the lodge moose with a hat on, good memories of individuals we hadn’t thought of in years….
At some points in their lives, people like to recall and dialogue about things the way they used to be. (Ah, remember the days when we used to get nostalgic?!) I guess it’s just coincidence that these two FB groups cropped up at about the same time and jammed my Inbox with probably 500 messages in 10 days.
Nevermind that Grotto Pizza‘s sauce actually tastes a little weird, and the pizza isn’t any better than any other pizza; it’s just memorable. Nevermind that Rehoboth boardwalk fries from Thrasher’s, although pungent and flavorful, reek of malt vinegar at 50 paces. Nevermind that “In Christ Alone” and “He Is Exalted” these days are more theologically sound than “Precious Mem’ries” or “Tempted and Tried.” (And none of these songs is actually a “hymn,” by the by). When it comes right down to it, nevermind the true meaning, or lack of it, in what we remember fondly. Nevermind that the Wilmington of a few decades ago was no better than the present one — oh, OK, it had about 83,000 fewer traffic cones back then. We just like to remember. Somehow it makes us feel peaceful, and the memories seem “better than today,” whether or not there’s any truth in the memory.
People will remember, and they will enjoy remembering. Leaders everywhere, it’s our job to imbue the memories — and there will be memories — with meaning. That way, the memories will be more than merely nostalgic.