This marks the 500th post here at 4Q10D. I think that deserves some kind of celebration.
I started this blog back in 2008 as a way to write things down that I didn’t want to forget – to mark the passing of time, particularly in the lives of my children, and to put down thoughts on whatever was going on in the world. Since 1999 I had maintained an earlier blog-like thing devoted to the tribulations of being a new parent but in 2004 I ran out of time to write the massive chapters that it was divided up into and had let it lapse, and Kim finally convinced me to give the standard blog format a try.
Being unemployed in the fall of 2008 helped. The stereotypes come from somewhere, after all.
But since then things have changed.
I have become employed again, and like most bloggers I have found this to be no real obstacle to continued blogging. I have broadened my subject matter in some ways, and – especially lately – narrowed it in others. And I have gained something of an audience – not the massive collection of minions eager to do my bidding that I might dream of in my more grandiose fantasies, but a nice collection of readers who seem to enjoy what I write, even if they don’t always agree with it, and who occasionally take the time to let me know. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.
I am a historian. Historians remember. That’s what we do, and that’s in large part what this is for. To remember what happened, to remember how I felt, to remember the days as they passed by, one after the other in their ceaseless blur.
The dirty little secret about historians, though, is that as a discipline we are very good at remembering the big things – the broad sweeping movements, the earth-shaking events, the rise and fall of empires and so on – but really not so good at remembering the little things that make life worth living.
As a historian, I can tell you all about mid-late 20th-century festival rituals among the American middle class – where they came from, the economic and social conditions that made them possible, and so on – but it is only through personal memories that I can tell you what Christmas looked like, sounded like and smelled like in my family when I was a kid in the 1970s, and it is only through memories that my children will know what those things were like growing up in the first decade or two of the 21st century.
That is the difference between history and memory. And that is why I do this.
There is history here – I am a historian, and I write from that perspective.
But this is mostly about memory.
Thank you for coming along with me on this ride, and I hope the next 500 posts live up to the first 500.