A few weeks ago Episode 125, dropped, How to Relate When They Come Home From College. It evoked interesting responses from two listeners. If you missed that episode, I’ll have a link to it at the bottom of the show notes.

Both responses reminded me of something we can be thankful for as we close in on Thanksgiving Day here in the US. Namely, we can be thankful we have the privilege of creating memories for people. Keep listening to learn how.

First listener response

A listener in Virginia wrote after listening to that episode the following:

“Hey John,
Great podcast this week (as always), but this one was nostalgic, bringing thoughts of my folks and how I couldn’t wait to see them my first Thanksgiving away from home.  It seemed like a long semester and a long trip home (600 miles), but I remember my Mom fixed my favorite dishes, and my Dad was ready with lots of hugs and even more questions.  He wanted to listen, and so did Mother!”

The show our listener is referring to was directed to the parents of a returning college student, while her response highlights the effect her parents’ welcoming had on her. They did it right. They created a great memory for her: favorite foods, lots of hugs, and listening, complete with many questions.

The listener is a personal friend of Janet and mine. To put her comments in context, our friend is many decades past her college years, yet this memory still sticks with her. I doubt if her parents gave any thought when they welcomed her daughter home from college for the first time that it would create such a lasting memory in her daughter. Knowing that her parents passed away within the past several years makes this all the more meaningful.

We can certainly be thankful we have the privilege of creating memories for people. The good ones, like this one, have a long shelf life

Second listener response

This one comes from our daughter Jennifer who lives in South Carolina. She wrote:

“I just saw this email [the one I send each Wednesday morning previewing that week’s episode], but you would be happy to know that on Wednesday night when Tim [her husband our son-in-law] was driving to get Nathan [their son], I thought to put a pizza in the oven for when they got here. So when Nathan got home at 10:30 pm, a pizza was waiting for him.

“We told him the last time he was home about this tradition you had started and how we wanted it to live on for him! So the legacy continues. Pizza upon arrival home from college!

“Thanks for making my childhood (and into adulthood) so great!. I love you…”

Her response really touched me in thanking me for making her childhood a great one. My wife Janet played a huge part in that, too.

It also touched me that she appreciated this pizza tradition that she wanted to carry forward with her son. Nathan loves pizza anyway, but to know one was awaiting him when he returned home from college for his fall break brought me joy.

My legacy

I guess my legacy will be about pizza. I can see it on my tombstone now,

Here lies John Certalic

He made pizza possible

So here we have two listeners sharing fond memories of the childhood their parents created for them. For some of us, our childhood was a stage of life we would just as soon forget. I’m one of those people. I can’t think of any happy memories growing up. But despite that, there is one great memory my mother created for me when I was in my 40s.

I wrote about it in my book, THEM – The Richer Life Found in Caring for Others. I’ll read a few paragraphs about this memory

A memory created coming home from the hospital

Several years after Dad retired, I got a phone call from Mom to tell me she was at the hospital with Dad. She called 911 when he fell out of his chair watching TV and then rode with him in an ambulance to the hospital. He had suffered a stroke and would be staying in the hospital. She asked if I could come and pick her up, as there was nothing more she could do that night.

I drove down to the hospital to get her and take her back home, which became the first of many such trips with her. She still drove herself but was quite nervous about this dramatic change in her life. So for those first few weeks, I often picked her up, and we visited Dad together. On one such occasion, coming home after a hospital visit, we stopped for a red light at an intersection close to her home, the home where I spent almost all of my growing-up years.

As we came to a stop, she suddenly burst into tears and cried out, “I am so sorry for how I raised you—all the yelling and hitting. You didn’t deserve any of that. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”

An apology makes a memory

Her apology was one of the most surprising things that ever happened to me. In fact, the story I just shared appears in chapter 14, “Three Surprises.”

It confirmed for me that I hadn’t made up memories of my dysfunctional childhood in my head. She confirmed reality for me. That what I remember happening actually did occur. I had forgiven my parents for all that a long time ago and didn’t need my mother’s apology. But her heartfelt expression of remorse was a wonderful gift my mother gave me. It’s one of the most meaningful memories I’ve ever experienced.

So what does all this mean for YOU?

How can you use what you’ve heard today to enhance the relationships in your life?

While it’s wonderful to be on the receiving end of memories others create for us; we can be thankful we can make memories for others ourselves. It will bring out the best in us as we create an experience someone will remember for the rest of their life.

And it’s never too late to start. My mother created that memory I mentioned for me when she was in her 60s.

My son and his wife created a memory a number of years ago their three kids will remember the rest of their lives. It started when they were all in elementary school. On the last day of school, when the school bus dropped

the kids off in front of their house, they got a big surprise from their parents. Out from behind some bushes or from behind the house, their parents came
running out brandishing military-style water guns, soaking their children with water as they ran around the yard trying to avoid them. I think Janet and I even got in on the act one year.

A memory that topped all others

The June 2020 water soaking was the best ever. The twin boys had just finished their senior year of high school, and their sister 10th grade. On that last day of school, they came home in a car they shared. As they approached their home and drove into their driveway, they were greeted by two firetrucks on the road that sprayed their car with water. And then each of them as they got out of the vehicle. It was the mother of all end-of-school-year memories!

I wrote about it in a Father’s Day blog post for June 2020. Click here if you’d like to read more about it.

All this to say, what memories can you create for someone this month? Perhaps even to apologize to someone who least expects it, just as my mother did for me.

It’s an important relational principle that we can be thankful we can make memories that will enrich someone’s life. It’s a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day and every day.

Here’s the main point I hope you remember from today’s episode

We can be thankful we can make memories for people. It’s never too late to start. It’s a privilege to bless someone else in ways they will remember for the rest of their lives.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to john [at] caringforothers [dot] org. Or you can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Comment” box at the bottom of the show notes.


I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to make a memory for someone. When you do, you will find some of the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to being with you again next week. Goodbye for now.

A related episode and blog post you may want to check out

Episode 125: How to Relate When They Come Home From College

Blog post mentioned above: Dads Spark Joy When They Create Memories

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