In addition to its change of temperatures and leaf colors, fall brings something more important, at least to me: A number of family birthdays. In particular, fall brings the birthdays of my two children, one of whom just turned 29 and the other of whom will turn 26 this weekend.

For a long time after my children left home to begin their adult lives, it almost seemed surreal to me that they kept getting older and older each year, as if time should stand still for them — and, perhaps more to the point, for me. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

I think their aging felt surreal because memories of their first years always have been so strong. Nonetheless, those memories are selective — they strictly are centered on the children. I can’t really remember much of what happened outside of being a mother and spending time with the kids. In other words, I have no real recall of the world at all.

I marvel at people who can think back to a certain time and say, “Oh, remember the terrible fire in (insert year)?” Or “Wow, that was a really bad blizzard in (insert year) — we lost power for five days!” Or “I never thought we’d survive the gas shortage in (insert year).”

Our world today seems so full of big, important news stories, including inflation and a likely recession to gas prices to war in Ukraine to school shootings to supply-chain issues. Has the world always been so full of significant occurrences? With my children’s birthdays on my mind, I started thinking back to what actually happened in the wide world during those years when I was focused solely on all things baby.

I couldn’t really pinpoint anything offhand and actually had to go online and research 1993 and 1996 to see what happened in the years when my children were born.

The year 1993 saw Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with Slovakia gaining independence. Less peacefully, in the United States, the World Trade Center bombing and the Waco siege took place. Two of the four police officers involved in the brutal treatment of Rodney King were convicted in a federal criminal trial of violating King’s civil rights, a welcomed but arguably anticlimactic epilogue to the 1992 state-court acquittal that led to riots in the streets.

Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court’s first Black justice, died. The year 1993 also saw the end of the iconic Sears catalog. In happier news, for collectors and, even more, for Ty Inc., Beanie Babies were introduced, beginning a collecting craze that lasted until 2000.

The year 1996 was no less eventful. TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed near New York, killing all 230 people aboard the plane. In other death news that captivated media consumers, 6-year-old child model JonBenét Ramsey was murdered. A famous birth also occurred: Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, was born in Scotland. And perhaps one of the world’s most famous divorces occurred — that of Prince Charles (now King Charles) and Princess Diana. In the sports world, athletic powerhouse Tiger Woods began his professional PGA tour debut. In the entertainment world, the first episode of the “Arthur” TV series aired.

After researching the years 1993 and 1996, I could certainly remember some of these events occurring, but, again, I never could have placed them specifically in the years when my children were born. They are important historical happenings — but not more important than first teeth, first words and first steps.

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