I’m one of those people who keeps the receipt for most everything I buy. I store them in a box and then when the box starts overflowing I go through and trash the ones that I don’t need to keep anymore. This amounts to almost all of them. After all, there’s no reason to keep a receipt for food long since eaten, gasoline long since driven off, and clothes that are already outgrown. Yet each time I find myself saving a few of those little scraps of paper for no reason other than the memory it contains. Silly? Probably. But receipts are like time stamped trips down memory lane. Perhaps nothing jogs a memory for me quite like the numbers and abbreviated descriptions along with the date, time and location. It really doesn’t matter what it was for or how much was spent but most of the time I can remember where I was and who I was with at the time. Sometimes it cracks wide open a whole day or event that I would have otherwise forgotten.
As I sorted through the stack I found myself drawn to the ones from around the time Allison was born. There it is in black and white 11:48am on August 24th. Sweetbay Supermarket. Purchases– crackers, apple juice, bread. This was my “Oh my gosh the baby is coming and Andrew is going to starve to death if I don’t go out and get these things rightthissecond!” I picture myself carrying two gallons of juice as I waddled through the parking lot dripping with sweat with Andrew by my side. That was the last place we went together just the two of us before Allison was born. Suddenly that little slip of paper isn’t a little scrap anymore.
Then there are the receipts from our first trip out as a family of 4. Pandora store– baby bootie with pink rhinestone. Baby girl outfit from Gymboree– denim skirt with buttons, sweater, tights (tights that actually STILL don’t fit!) Dress size newborn for Allison’s first trip to church. I remember that trip so well. We had a 5 day old baby and we were moving awfully slowly but there we were, together as a family of 4, out for the first time together. Such joy!
It’s not just Allison though I did get teary finding the receipt for the ultrasound that I had done where I learned we would be adding a baby girl to our family. But things like birthday and Christmas gifts, wedding gifts, restaurants in other towns that we visited on vacation. Receipts from the pediatrician when I took my kids in for their shots or a cold. A violin rental– Suzuki brand, size 1/16th. One jumbo Elmo balloon for Andrew’s 2nd birthday. The kid proof digital camera that Allison “gave” Andrew when she was born. The admission to the zoo, to Disney, to see the Space Shuttle launch, to climb the steps of a lighthouse, to see the dinosaur exhibit. All things I hadn’t thought of today, or yesterday, or last week. But things I remember now because of those tiny bits of paper. At the time received, they meant practically nothing but separated by a few months, even a few years they become reminders of the past and of things that are worth remembering. Things that make us– us. Things that all added up together don’t equal a dollar amount but they equal the events of life. They help you fill in the in-between– the gaps between the extraordinary and the mundane where we simply just live and where we exist.