Today is the first day that people can buy the much-ballyhooed Apple iPhone. Its release has created the type of frenzy normally associated with electronic game gadgets and Star Wars films.
Among the people lining up at the local Apple store many hours in advance of the first sale was the husband of a friend of a friend who just happened to bring along two of his grandchildren. He was caught by a local television reporter for a report on last evening’s news. The kids will long remember this, he said. This is the kind of thing that memories are made of.
He’s right, of course. Stories of that long night waiting with Gramps will undoubtedly outlive the iPhone itself, which is likely to be viewed as a quaint relic by the time the kids reach grandpa’s age. But are these the stories we really want to pass down?
I’m reminded of a similar story from my own family. For years one of our Christmas traditions was to gather with my mother’s relatives at an aunt’s farm on Christmas Eve. Besides a feast of aebleskiver, apple cake and egg salad on pumpernickel, there was a gift exchange for the youngsters.
One year our kids were left out of the exchange. Not wanting them to come away empty-handed, my wife and I decided to provide gifts for them. I don’t recall the circumstances, but our kids had been more naughty than nice at the time so we bought each of them a mini-brick of fruitcake. I’m one of those rare souls who admits to liking fruitcake, but for the kids it was the equivalent of a lump of coal.
Some relatives thought I was being cruel; I thought I was building memories. They’ll never forget this Christmas, I reasoned. I was right. They remember the night well and I think the story has been folded into more pleasant memories of the farm and the Christmas Eve activities there, which the kids usually found hokey and hopelessly outdated.
Still, I wonder if it was the right way to create memories. It probably was a bit on the cruel side, even though the incident played a bit part in an otherwise enjoyable Christmas season. That’s something to think about whenever we craft events with memory-building as a desired consequence.