As I looked back on my week, I noticed that I focused on a couple of the senses: vision and hearing. I wanted to think of something that had brought me joy as a child and was soft to the touch.
I had a hand muff as a child It was beige, faux fur, and I was probably 6 or 7 when I got it. We always dressed up for Sunday church and major holidays, so having a hand muff to go with my fancy jacket was key.
I don’t know if this is a figment of my imagination, but I remember having my muff when my sister, Stephanie, and I received our First Communion. Writing memoir can often be subjective, because we get this vision of fact in our head that is based on a child’s memory. Whether the details are exact isn’t a deal breaker. It’s gathering the sparks of memory that roll out into other threads of memory that count.
So I’m going with this story until I find photos that tell me otherwise. I lived with my parents, my brother, and two sisters on Braxton Street in Hempstead, Long Island. We could walk to school, and my aunt lived down the street, so we often visited. It was a close knit neighborhood where everyone knew each other.
I remember our white dresses and the veil that rested like a head band on my head. I have a memory of my hands in my muff and how warm they were inside. It was a cocoon of comfort until my hands got too hot and I had to take them out. The muff was soft and I would hold it and run my fingers through the fur because it was a prized possession.
I don’t know if it was tradition, but later that day we walked around to all the houses in our dresses and told the neighbors about our Communion. It was obvious with what we were wearing, but who could resist little girls in white, holding muffs, and smiling with missing teeth?
Neighbors gave us money, and we went home to celebrate. I guess there are two memories here, but that’s the joy of writing about the past. As it unravels, threads lead you elsewhere. Something soft, something white, but a wonderful memory of childhood and community.
What is something soft that you remember as a child? Maybe you still have it. Does it feel the same? What memories does it bring up by holding it. Look for photos to spark where you held it. Bringing the senses into memoirs creates the whole picture, so that others remember it along with you.