Different Childhoods

Kate remembered the silly, shiny sequin fight, and Randall remembered the smashed broken plate all over the kitchen. If you watch the hit TV show This is Us, you know what I'm talking about.

Though Kate and Randall are same-age siblings, each remembered their mutual childhood event in two very different ways. In fact, neither remembered the same details as his/her sibling.

How can that happen? One of them must be wrong, right?

Not so fast. Being right or wrong when it comes to memory isn’t always “a thing.”

We see the moments of our lives through our own lenses. Our lenses are crafted by our experiences, our beliefs, our values, our joys, our pains, our fears—you get the point.

And all of these little mirrors project themselves onto a specific memory yielding an often unsymmetrical kaleidoscope like no other.

Who's Right?

Only the Pearsons know for sure why they remember that day so differently. Perhaps Kate only remembers the sequins because she needs her dad’s memory to be happy and playful; angry, frustrated dad scares her. The little girl inside still needs comfort. She needs her daddy.

Maybe Randall remembers the broken plate because he’s the fixer. Dad was upset. What can he do to help? He doesn’t remember the fun sequin fight because his default is to heal the broken. Disorder scares him. “Fun” is harder for Randall.

Is Kate right or is Randall right?

True memoir is all about making sense of the lives we've lived and seeing beauty in our imperfect kaleidoscopes.
- Michelle Beckman

Making Sense of Our Own Lives

They’re both right when it comes to making sense of their own lives. And I believe that’s what true memoir is all about—making sense of the lives we’ve lived and seeing beauty in our imperfect kaleidoscopes.

As I gather material for my own memoir, I frequently ask my sister and my parents for details about specific events from our past. Inevitably, we remember different facts and emotions that have led us to our own beliefs and values, fears and joys.

Sometimes, we don’t even remember the same events. But that’s okay. Every kaleidoscope (and every memoir) is unique—messy and beautiful and complex and colorful in its own imperfect way.

Share your stories often. Save your life story forever.

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This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!


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2 thoughts on “The Kaleidoscope of Memories in “This Is Us””

  1. My siblings and I see things in our childhood very differently! My sisters were only 11 and 12 yrs old when we lost my parents and therefore, only knew mom as mom and dad as dad vs each one of them as individuals. They have asked me so many questions over the years and my heart goes out to them because they are trying to remember things through my lens and my memories and not their own because they were so young. I have 2 older brothers and one of them see us as having been strapped for money where he felt we were poor. I never felt that way even though I remember that it was not easy financially at times in VT with 5 children and a big house that was difficult to heat.

    • Hi Sharon, It’s really amazing how each sibling can remember family dynamics and events differently. We all really do have our own lenses, don’t we. Thanks for sharing part of your story with us, and I encourage you to keep writing!


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