Jun 052013
 

Originally posted April 17, 2013; updated June 5, 2013

Traveling Down Memory Lane:

Memory LaneDwellings in which we spent our childhood years take on a prominent role in our memories. Perhaps it’s that the layout of our homes dictated much of the rhythms of our daily lives as we grew up, or perhaps it’s the plasticity of the developing child’s mind that causes the memories to be so deeply chiseled there.

More than one childhood home?

In my family, we tended to live in one house for decades. As a result, many of my memories revolve around the same physical building and surrounding neighborhood.

Your “childhood home” might be your grandparents’ or aunt’s home, your school, or your community center. You may also have bits and pieces of different homes that stand out in your recollections.

My childhood home

My childhood home

Regardless, the fact is, the place or places you lived were a part of your growing up and were the setting in which the ‘forming’ of your formative year took place.

For most of us, “home” was the place we felt safe, loved, and free to form. Even if your growing up place(s) cannot be painted as idyllic (and I’m not advocating revising your past), your memories of them will interest the generations coming after you and will deepen the connections you have with family members that share your memories of these places.

Your childhood homes

Every story is better with a well-described setting. By writing about childhood homes, you can leave your readers with some impressions of your the place or places in which you grew up.  This can be especially meaningful if it is no longer in the family or is far away.

Don’t limit yourself to the physical characteristics of your home, but also include:

Sounds:

What were you likely to hear? Was it a noisy home, filled with people and activity or was it the place you went to find peace? Who caused the noise: people, nature, or machinery?

Smells:

What were you likely to smell? Thinking back on these odors can bring back a flood of memories. (See Smells and Memory: How it works)  Kitchen smells come easily to mind, but there could be perfumes, cleaners, tobacco and (eww) personal smells.

Personality:

What did this home “feel” like?  Was it pristine, cozy, homemade, cobbled-together or professionally decorated? Was furniture worn and comfy or covered in plastic? Did it have a loving feel or were there overtones of anger there?

Rhythms:

What were the daily rhythms of the household? Would a visitor most likely find someone in the kitchen, on the phone, or in the garden? Did activity break out at a specific time?

Want to see a great example? Watch singer-songwriter Stephanie Jansen sing to her dad about the home he built.  (You don’t have to be able to sing your memories, listen to her words!)

Take your readers for a walk down Memory Lane, up your front walk, and into your childhood home.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013

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  4 Responses to “Writing about Childhood Homes-4 Easy Ways to Start”

  1. [...] Going back to a family homestead? Moving out of the home in which you raised your children? Take a quick video tour of the house and rooms. (See Writing about Childhood Homes.) [...]

  2. [...] month,  we looked at Writing about your Childhood Home.   “Come with me back to my Childhood Home” was the title that my grandmother used [...]

  3. Great article! I’ve been trying to find the best way to document the homes I grew up in and have found it to be a real struggle. My family moved around a lot (and I do mean A LOT) when I was younger, and there are no pictures of most of the homes where I lived. I’m working on finding a good quality map that I can “pin” with the locations of all the houses we lived in for a layout in my scrapbook. Then, on following pages, I think I’ll mostly journal about some of the memories I had living in each house. It’s going to be a challenge.

    • Sounds like a wonderful project. I recently heard of a new site that lets you find maps from different time periods. When I find it, I’ll send you a link.

      Laura

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