I don’t know about you, but we always seem to have the best stories from our vacations. It feels as though we also give ourselves permission to recall these memories more often and we fall into stomach-bending laughter, competing with each other to finish the story. Does this happen in your family, too?
My sons vacation annually with their father “downy ocean” as they say here in Maryland. They trek across the Bay Bridge for a week of frolicking in the sand and surf at Ocean City, Maryland. Highlights for them include riding the rides at The Jolly Roger, Thrasher’s Fries, and finally being tall enough to be flung into space on the Slingshot. They play mini-golf and video games (the latter, sometimes all night).
One of their favorite beach memories involved a “mud fight” they had with their grandfather in the bay the summer before he died. The photograph of my youngest and Ken, each smiling ear-to-ear, slicked with mud, says it all.
By contrast, our vacations together typically find us in the mountains or touring Europe. We’ve had snowball fights at Loveland Pass on July 4th; touched the 11th-century vial containing the blood of Christ in Bruges, Belgium; witnessed Old Faithful shoot off into the brilliant blue sky; watched shooting stars streak overhead near Acadia National Park in Maine; and hiked the Cliffs of Mohr in Ireland.
One of the activities we love to do on our mountain vacations is riding the rapids. We’ve done so on the Colorado, Arkansas, and Snake Rivers. The first summer we took a raft ride down the Snake River was 2005 and my kids were too little to paddle so they sat in the middle. As we hit the first major rapid, Cooper shouted, “This is the best day of my life.” I can still picture his grin and hear the joy in his voice.
The photos and stories from our vacations (along with other pictures) go into annual books I create for my kids, which are their favorite Christmas gifts. I’ve been creating these books for over ten years. Pulling them together is a gift I give to myself: time to slow down and reflect on the joys we shared together over the preceding twelve months.