Pat Monahan’s Blog: Gifts vs. Moments

12/02/2010 at 09:00 AM ET

Thanks for welcoming our newest celebrity bloggerPat Monahan! The Train frontman is dad to two teens — Patrick, 17, and Emelia, 13 — as well as Autumn, his 2-year-old daughter with wife Amber.

In addition to Train — who have a holiday hit with “Shake Up Christmas” and were just nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance — Monahan also voices the lead character on Sprout’s Driver Dan’s Story Train.

In his latest blog, Monahan, 41, reminiscences about his favorite childhood memories, shares his hopes for his own kids — and opens up about resolutions for the new year.

Autumn, Emelia, Pat and Amber — Courtesy Pat Monahan


When I think back to my favorite things about my childhood holidays, I don’t recall too many gifts. Most or all of my favorite things about this time of year are moments I had with people that changed my life.

I see myself on the steps at age 6, unable to sleep, peering around the corner trying to catch a glimpse of some grand event. I remember wrapping paper and laughter and tears when relatives went back to their homes or back to college. I remember the smell of the cookies my mother baked and the look in her eyes when she smiled at her babies (all seven of us!).

As I grew older and became an uncle, I hear new babies crying and giggling, and recall children throwing snowballs at my car as I wished I could join them — then chasing them to make it more exciting.

I remember the heart of the American holiday season. I remember having a broken heart during my first Christmas without my mother and the lost feeling of our family. I remember when our family was broken and I recall when we found ourselves again and laughed and ate and drank and laughed and cried and drank and … well, that’s probably good enough — it got a little weird. ;)

Autumn and Patrick — Courtesy Pat Monahan


I want my children to have that in their memory bank. I want them to look back and see us playing Candy Land and putting milk and cookies out. I want them to care about the moments, not the gifts and know that the moments ARE the gifts.

All I can ask of my children is that one day they look back fondly at a few moments I have provided them with during those seasons of joy. Even when there was no snow and few friends and family around, we have always had one another and we have always felt like we belonged to one another.

I want that for my children forever. I want them to know that they belong to something. They belong to the moments and memories that we have shared. They belong to me and I belong to them and if there is a stray person that seems to have no one then pull them in so they have something to belong to because we’re all connected.

Autumn and her grandfather — Courtesy Pat Monahan


I’ve always thought highly of those who serve — whether they are serving in the armed forces or serving you coffee — and I love the ones who choose to do it with class and kindness. It’s an honor to be of service. This holiday season and in the new year to come, I plan to be of service on a higher level.

It’s time to shed some old habits and fill my space with more love, more humility and more forgiveness. It’s time for me to give more of myself and expect less in return.

It is time to be more like my parents, who provided me with these amazing holiday memories that still make me tear up just thinking about their kindness and love. Even with seven children, they seemed to make us all feel individual and special. They weren’t perfect and I sure as heck am not, but striving for perfection can be a heart breaker in the end. Time to be okay with doing my best.

So, thank you Mom and Dad for all of these great memories. I hardly remember even one gift other than the time and love you put in to making the holidays special for me and your other kiddos. Maybe some day my kids will look back and love their past as well.

Merry everything, everyone! I hope these times are filled with everything your hearts desire and a whole lotta love.

Autumn, Emelia and Pat — Courtesy Pat Monahan


Sending you love,

– Pat Monahan

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Showing 45 comments

Vicki on

Well done and well said!!! May your holidays be a dream come true – for and your family!

Jill on

WOW!!! His family is beautiful! What a wonderful message to send out this time of year. People so easily forget the importatnt things of the holiday season, the birth of Jesus, family time, and making wonderful memories….not so much the quantity of presents under the tree.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Lilianne on

Wish this was like Facebook and had a “like” option! I have been telling my recently divorced friend this same thing…she doesn’t have much (any, really) money for gifts for her 4 kids this year. It’s not what you unwrapped (or didn’t) that you will remember..but the memories of family and love.

None of us really think back to the Christmas we got the present we had been longing for…or maybe didn’t get…it’s the time we made and decorated salt dough ornaments…or personalized plain stockings with fabric paint. Or the snowball fight, the snowman we built and the hot chocolate and laughter we had after. :)

Sherri on

I have really liked Pat Monohan since I saw him years ago on an interview and he had beautiful things to say about his wife. I could feel the love he had for her and I see what a beautiful family he has and great memories. What a heart-warming blog. Thanks Pat.

Alice on

What a beautiful post!

Brookie on

What a beautiful man! Inside and out! Lovely family as well. I so agree with him too. I don’t want my Daughter to grow up and only remember that Mommy and Daddy put presents under the tree. I want her to grow up and remember that we sang and danced together in the living room listening to Christmas music, or made cookies together. He’s so right- It’s the memories, not the gifts! REALLY like this guy :)

mable on

This really touched me….I love the holidays and what I remember is just the feeling of Christmas, the smell of the Balsom tree that we always had. Going to pick out a tree, making cookies, being with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Sitting around talking, and the food! This is what I have tried to do for my kids and we have created our own traditions and they will look back and they will have those traditions that they will keep and new ones they make with their families.

I remember moving to Florida and hating warm weather at Christmas. One year, when we went to get our tree, the trees had just come off the truck and had snow all over them and we made snowballs. That helped get the Christmas feeling.

Angi on

Ok…this post made me cry. I wish more fathers gave their children this much though and love.

S Miller on

I myself am doing everything I can to make special memories with my grandchildren the same way I did with my children. We make the dough ornaments and we make other Christmas crafts also. We have fun wrapping presents together and making cookies and other special treats.

My wish is for my children and grandchildren to remember those times over anything else. I want them to appreciate and cherish time with family and the true meaning of Christmas and what it SHOULD represent and respect. they should never be ashamed or embarrassed to say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

JES on

great heartfelt message. Love the family pictures especially the last with his little looking up at her big sis w/love and adoration.

Denny on

You touched on the important moments of the holidays and gave me my own memories back…the best are the MOMENTS and the memories. My sister and brother and I did not have a father, but my Mom made our Christmas special with little money. Most favorite memory was sitting on the sofa and listening to music, and now I share Train and your gifts with my nephew…You Rock, Pat! Thank you so much!

BelgianNathalie on

“I’ve always thought highly of those who serve — whether they are serving in the armed forces or serving you coffee”

I love it…and had to get the tissuebox out after reading this post…

Mina on

What a wonderful man…and his daughters are CUTE!

Ally on

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever teared up from reading someone’s blog but this one totally got me. Pat, you have such an amazing way with words. Your family is extremely lucky to have such a caring person feel this way about them. “Merry Everything” to you too!

Heidi K. on

Oh my goodness, that was such a wonderful posting!!! I am truly touched!

Anonymous on

I have tears streaming down my face. This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read, and the honesty and sincerity of his words and the love in his heart really came through. Thank you, Pat, for reminding us what the holidays are truly about and for giving us wise words to live by for the entire year.

Misty H. on

I just love reading Pat’s blogs – they are so genuine and heartfelt. There is no pretense, there is no hint of celebrity – just a regular, ordinary guy with a REALLY cool job! Thank you Pat for sharing your wonderful memories and photos with us readers!!

P.S. My 3 year old daughter’s FAVORITE song is “Hey Soul Sister”! :-)

Mom of 2 on

Simply beautiful.

robinepowell on

He has the right idea where Christmas is concerned. Too many kids today, think of Christmas as presents, instead family get togethers.

Pat, I hope your kids, nieces, nephews and cousins all keep these traditions alive for generations to come.

holli on

emelia is his little mini-me! his entire family is gorgeous, and it is so wonderful to hear of a man in the music business that is so in love with his family!

DaraRae on

I love this and adore the such gracious words of wisdom. Being a young mom of an eleven and nine year old I feel that the memories are the best things I can give them. When I was a kid, we never had a lot of material things, but we had each other,love, laughter, tears of joy, etc. This society makes it so difficult to show and teach our children that these are the things that truly matter. Anytime my boys talk about any family event, they always bring up a memory, not the gifts they received. That is the moment I take advantage to remind them “See, its about the time with family and friends. What’s was your favorite memory? What is something new we can do?”

I also love the “act of service” comment. I take any service job seriously and with great appreciation. I think in some way we all serve. For any single parent, I think you can relate that we do this without any thought on a daily basis! This year I’m taking my boys to the shelter to serve Christmas dinner.

I feel this is a great time to really show them the other side of how people are suffering, yet find great happiness in just being here everyday and something as simple as a hot meal. We have a tendency to say “less fortunate”, well I feel in many ways they are more fortunate. They see life and the world in totally different perspective with “less”, yet they have “more” appreciation than most of us. I know this will be another great memory and life lesson that we’ll do every year, not just donating blankets and clothes throughout the year… but taking real time out to give.

Thanks Pat for sharing your thoughts and memories. You’re a wonderful example of what it means to be thankful, thoughtful and appreciative of life, family and what real memories are. I hope you have many “gifts” this holiday season!

Happy Holiday’s and New Year!!

Lauren on

Totally love this blog. I’m sure the fact that I love Train has something to do with it, but with all the mom bloggers this site has had, the dads-Mark McGrath and Pat-have definitely had the two best in my book. It’s all well and good to talk about breastfeeding, getting babies to sleep, etc. but those topics are already talked to death in every mommy group and baby book you can imagine.

How often does anyone ask dads how they feel about being parents and what their hopes and dreams for their kids are? Judging by a ton of comments on this site, you’d think the role of the father isn’t even important the way some people carry on about moms needing to be chained to their babies 24/7, and it really makes me sad.

Love this blog, love your music, and LOVE the photos. Autumn clearly adores her big brother and sister, and they clearly love her. That is so great to see.

Barbara on

That was the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Money is really tight this holiday season and I have been really stressing about disappointing my children and grandchildren and that definitely put things in perspective for me. As much as I love and have always loved the season I was feeling a little down and these words changed my whole outlook.

Merry Christmas Pat to you and your family. I will be thinking about you as my family and I are once again making some memories!

Erika on

He seems like such a nice, down to Earth person! His older daughter looks just like him! She’s really pretty! The little one is adorable too! Beautiful family!

VeroRivka on

Thanks for this beautiful blog!
“Gifts VS Moments” : I definitely choose Moments ! I cherish all these memories. We can’t buy them & because of that, they are so precious!
Merry everything to you too Pat!

Cassidy on

Wow this makes me so happy and so sad at the same moment! I remember my childhood being so happy with my parents, and even when I stopped believing in Santa I didn’t let on until I was almost 10 lol. They gave me everything but most importantly they gave me love. This is why Christmas is the most wonderful holiday of the year… it’s bringing hardship and heartbreak to a graceful stop with love and togetherness (as cheesy as that sounds).

I am now 23 with a beautiful 18 month old daughter of my own and I feel sad for her that she doesn’t have a father in her life, but I hope that she doesn’t remember her first few years as the time of her life she only had one parent, I want her to remember all the love she get’s from me and my parents who love her just as she was their own. I want her to remember back when the whole family gathered around the Christmas tree with children ready to burst in anticipation.

Thanks for the post… Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family :D

Laurie Trow on

So inspiring. So motivating and uplifting. I wish for your family all of things that you hold so precious in your heart. I am a giant fan. In my mind, your biggest! Now after reading this that holds true even more so. So again, Merry everything to you and yours, and whatever you do—Wish REALLY BIG!! I know I am.

Carrie Freeman on

After the first time I saw Train in concert, I was blown away by the warmth and charisma of Pat Monahan on stage (not to mention his voice, and one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen)…..he just reached out and grabbed the audience IN. When I mentioned this to an old friend in the concert business, he said “I know Pat Monahan and he’s AWESOME.”

And so he is. Pat Monahan is awesome, and just happens to have a gorgeous family! I love his blogs and his humanity.

Sonia on

This touched me deeply. The true meaning of the season, family. Thank you for reminding us! What a wonderful gift you gave us this year with the new CD and the Christmas song. I love you and the band.

Sharon on

This definitely made me cry. You are such a thoughtful, introsepctive gifted writed of many talents WHO SERVES MANY with your music. Although not a musician and tone deaf, your music means everything to me and gets me through the hardest time and will surely play a significant role in getting me through this holiday season– the first since my mother passed away. My heart is broken and when I hear your music or see you guys in columbus on 12/7/10, it gives me a break from the tears, stress and trauma the last several months have brought– Just like the ten other concerts I was able to see you guys at this past 12 months. I will be there singing loud and out of tune probably annoying the person next to me… but thats too bad for them… because Tues at Train is my holiday moment for 2010. Also a young girl who is a huge fan that I met on FB made a memorial video for my mom of different clips of you guys to the song “This ain’t goodbye”– I treasure it and you and your band. Hope you have a good holiday season of moments.

Anne on

What a sweet man, and what a beautiful post!

Pat’s blogs never fail to move me…for he speaks with such honesty, sincerity, and pure love from his heart. I have to say that this one sent the tears flowing for me.
Sadly, there are so many ‘first’s without them’ times when you lose a parent. I lost both mine from cancer, mom in 1998 and dad in 2003. The special times they ‘should’ be celebrating with you,like Mother’s/Father’s day,birthdays,anniversaries, and Christmas, are so so hard. And,yes, one does feel lost. But somehow, with time,friends, love,and healing, you do the best you can, and those sad times, though still there, will slowly turn into laughter and smiles. And most of all, the happy memories will remain.

Pat, I want to wish you a Happy and Merry Everything, to you and your beautiful family.
You are so blessed and lucky to have them, and I think they are even luckier to have YOU.

We all are.
Take care,xo.

Lori on

How beautiful!
Now i have to go adjust my eye makeup- I am reading this at work!

WOW-very touching and HOW HOW TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I will print this and reflect on it all season long!

Allie on

I miss my mom a lot at the holidays. I remember the smiles and the cookies too, and make sure to pass those memories in to my kids. I am looking forward to a visit from my daughter this Christmas.

Thanks for sharing your holiday memories. Beautiful family!

Cindy Abramo on

I’ve quoted and very much related to the Beatles song The End. This line, for me, sums up my feelings on this blog. “And in the end, the love you take–is equal to the love you make” It really is not about the the “mullah” but the thoughts and memories that count. Lets all try to make those memories with our loved ones–and those you may not have enough or any. It doesn’t cost a thing but it’s value, immeasurable :)
Merry “everything” to you as well. And everyone else<3

Dev on

Great guy and very heartwarming note. This is what the holidays are all about!


Anonymous on

I’m crying as I write this….how did he know what it was like at my house!! It is all I want for my childeren, the memories I had:)

Alison on

wow, what a wonderful message to send out to people. i could not agree more. it’s not about the gifts themselves….the people and memories are the real gifts. well done!!

gorgeous family, by the way. you are very blessed.

FC on

This was a lovely post. Most times the holidays and spending that time with the family is better than any present under the tree. Or sitting around and remembering Christmases from the past and what happened then. Usually end up crying from laughing so hard! Good times.

And that Autumn is the sweetest little thing! :)

Susan on

This is love…
it seems pretty clear where the words he writes come from … a strong foundation of love.

Debi on

Happy Holidays to all- What a lovely piece by Pat Monahan!!! I have been a long time fan of Train and Pat’s work. I knew that he treasured his family but this piece and the photos he provided just confirm that. What a beautiful family!

I lost my dad in 2005 and the holidays are always tough. I treasure the memories that I have as a child with my parents, brother and extended family. Now as a mother, I try to instill in my daughter the idea that Christmas is not all about the presents but rather the time we get to spend with family. We work hard to make sure she knows that it’s important to give to others that are not as fortunate as we are. We recently spent an afternoon picking out presents for other children and families that we donated through local charities.

I don’t think it matters what faith you are or how you celebrate the season’s blessings, I think it matters more how you celebrate you families and the precious time you have with them.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah to all!! Seasons blessings to all!

sarah petro on

That article was so intriguing!it just filled my heart with joy.Pat is an incredible writer.I am just now-in this moment-that maybe he named his band for “train of though”i love the way his ideas and feelings flow… makes me feel closer to someone i’ve never met by reading sentiments like this about their own experiences.Pat,if you read you for your light,your talent and your self.Bless you and your family.

Dimi on

Well, i am not a fun of Christmas season due to bad memories. I am sending you from sunshine Greece the Best wishes for Health and Inspiration for the New Year.
I wish every songwriter and group could write very good music and lyrics.
Best Regards!

Amy on

Sorry to say this, but this article makes me incredibly mad. I’m 14, and I live in the same city as the Monahan kids. His daughter, Emelia, is very sweet, but his son is troubled. He uses drugs, etc. The kids’ mom texted the singer, Pat, that he needed help. Want to know the famous Pat Monahan’s reply was? “Call me when he dies.”

susan on

Amy- please do not speak of what you do not know… Pat would never say that about his son!!!

michelle on

Amy that is a horrible thing to say…at just 14 you have a great deal to learn about the real world and life. Didn’t your parents teach you not to tell lies? Perhaps this was you trying to get attention but you really just made yourself look pretty stupid.


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