The Value of Family Memories

Revisiting moments that mean so much

Isn’t it amazing how our brain stores memories? There are about 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes) of storage up there, ready to capture the good, the bad and the ugly bits of life.

“If your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows … more than 300 years to use up all that storage,” says Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University.

So we’ve definitely got enough room to store all our past memories and make heaps of new ones.

As far as new memories are concerned, I’m about to embark on a new adventure, get married to my wonderful fiancé and move out of the place I’ve called home for over a decade. It’s exciting, but also kind of terrifying.

Remembering family holiday experiences

As I prepare to leave home, I reflect on all the great moments I’ve been privileged to share with my family so far. Many of my favourites are from the holidays we’ve been on together, taking us all around the globe.

For our family, it’s the food memories that bring us the most joy. Eating massive deli rolls with slabs of fresh mozzarella on the coast of Positano. Discovering the never-ending Cheesecake Factory menu in Boston. Gulping down liquid chocolate in the cold streets of Paris and burning our tongues. Savouring warm Marks and Spencers curry on our first night in London.

Beyond this, the best memories we’ve made on our trips have often been the most unexpected — we don’t even remember how some of our favourite moments or inside jokes came to be! For some reason, it’s a tradition every holiday to yell ‘SUUUUUPERMARKETTTT’ at a random junction. There are certain shop names we have to sing every time we walk past them. And I’m still trying to figure out why there’s a competition to be the first Hammond to spot a McDonalds when we’re visiting a new city.

What’s amazing is how the way we think about our memories can change over time. The more I think about these moments, the more the focus shifts from sensory details to the people I shared them with. I remember my Mum’s face every time she discovered a new Christmas shop on holiday; how my Dad beamed from ear to ear when he found out we were taking him to Legoland; the way my sister got excited every time she found a new Pringles flavour.

Thinking about my family memories in this way gives me strength as I start my next chapter. It feels less like I’m leaving them behind when I can revisit those special memories again and again. And I know my brain has enough storage to keep them with me for many years to come!

Start recording your family memories with the MyMeander app. It’s easy to create a timeline of life’s precious moments to treasure for years to come.

Article written by Elisha Hammond for MyMeander – February 2020