Tag Archive for family vacations

Family Traditions & Collections

At the beginning of this year I had posted a picture on my “Renee’s Revelings” Facebook page with  my son, Bryan’s, collection of Christmas ornaments.  I have had quite a few traditions with my kids over the years, and wanted to share the ones that mean the most me.

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A lifetime of Christmas ornaments.

 

When I was a working mom, with four active kiddos I was always paying attention to things that I wanted to incorporate as traditions for us at home.  Holiday traditions, summer traditions, and just plain old family traditions.  Can you tell I’m a traditionalist at heart?

One of my favorite “traditions” was with the kids friends.  When any of them had a friend over for dinner they were always considered a guest in our home the first three times they had dinner at our table.  (I honestly cannot remember how I arrived at the number three.) After that I always told their friends you’re no longer a guest now you’re part of the family. Which was heart-warming for the friend, but my kids knew it meant I expect your friends to help out with serving dinner and cleaning up afterwards. I was usually the one doing the cooking.

During the summer months I had this tradition of taking the kids out for an ice cream after dinner.  The kids would be all bathed and clean and in their pajamas.  I’d say, “Hey let’s go get an ice cream!  Don’t change you can just go in your pj’s.  Pajama run!!!”  And then we’d all head for the car and the kids would be giggling all the way because they’d go out at  night in their pajamas.  Such fun memories.

Whenever we went to the beach during the summer I’d be sure and stop for an ice cream treat on the way home.  Are you noticing my  ice cream loving pattern here?  They still talk about the places we used to stop on the way home.  Such fun times piling everyone in the car along with all the gear for a day of sand and surf!

My holiday traditions with the kids are the ones that are the most precious to me, and the ones I know they will carry with them into their own homes.  Since my oldest daughter was a baby, and on her first Christmas in 1981, I bought her an ornament each year to commemorate the holiday.  The ornaments were the most precious of all of our family traditions for me.  Every year I would buy a special ornament for each one of the kids and paint their names and the year on each one.  I knew that one day they would be leaving the nest, and that collection of ornaments would go with them to start their first Christmas in their own houses with memories of their childhood.  Some years I would buy them all them same ornaments; Santa’s, or snowmen, or nutcrackers.  Other years I bought them ornaments based on a trip we had taken that year, or some place they had been, or a hobby they were interested in.   My oldest daughter has already continued this tradition with her own kids, and I hope she knows that she is creating memories that will last a lifetime.  That is precious to me.

As this New Year began and I was taking down our Christmas tree and the decorations I packed up my oldest son’s decorations for the last time.  I put them in a box with all of his other personal decorations that he will take with him to his own home later this year.  I will admit that I did get a little teary eyed during this process.  You see he’s the last one of our kids to take his beloved ornaments with him as he leaves the place he’s called home for over 25 years.  He’ll be getting married in the fall of this year, and have his own box of ornaments to decorate his first Christmas tree with in his own home.  That warms my heart knowing that his childhood memories and the collection of ornaments that he grew up with will live on each and every holiday season.

For me traditions, memories, collections, and pictures are the core of our family history. They are those little things that remind you of the warmth and the love of your home.  Or maybe certain traditions remind you of your parents, or grandparents.   The things that are important and special to you will last a lifetime, and are always the most meaningful.

Across the Country – We Took a Road Trip.

48-IMG_0066 2Today is the second anniversary of the day my  Dad passed away.  For myself it’s important to acknowledge this day, and have some long-time remembrances of my Dad, and my parents together.  As I started to write this post I was thinking a lot about my Dad and the fact that he wouldn’t want us to be sad and somber, but to remember the good times with him, the laughter and the love.  Today I’m going to share a story about a road trip.  This particular road trip happened  in July of 2013 and it has taken me awhile to put my thoughts together to be able to share this story with all of you.  As it happened my parents were visiting my grandparents in Illinois when my Dad became critically ill in June of 2013.  My Dad passed away very unexpectedly, and it was just a fortunate circumstance that my siblings, myself, and Travel Man were there to be with my Mom and Dad during this most difficult time.  Once all of the affairs with my Dad were decided and concluded it was time to get my Mom and her car back to California.  Travel Man and I volunteered for this “Road Trip” as he had some vacation time, so we knew we could make this happen.  This would definitely be a somber experience.

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I’m sure my Mom was anxious and nervous on this entire trip.  Everything that was “normal” for her had been turned inside out and upside down.  It was a poignant trip, with lots of talk of our past family vacations, and my parents travels.  Travel Man learned a lot more about the family history on this trip that he’s ever had the occasion to hear.

Our first day out we traveled through western Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa.  Somewhere during this day we came up with the idea that we would enjoy movie nights at our destination hotel.  The movies we selected had to be set in the state we were staying in that evening. The first night we were in Iowa so if course that called for a viewing of “The Music Man”.  A timeless classic, and I’m sure we heard Travel Man saying, “Pick a little, talk a little” for the next few days.  One of his favorite lines from that movie.

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Our second night out we stayed in York, Nebraska and watched “About Schmidt” with Jack Nicholson.  During the day we took a little detour and did some touring at the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney, Nebraska.   A great monument that tells the story of the role Nebraska and Fort Kearney played in the expansion of the West.  It was great to take some time off  the road, and just enjoy ourselves.

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Next it was on to Colorado and I’m pretty sure we ditched the movie night theme for a wine night.  Our destination for the day was Silt, CO.  I remember this was such a poignant day.  Travelling through the Rocky Mountains, and my Mom playing “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver on the radio.    That song has always been one of our family vacation favorites.  I cried in the car the entire time the song was  playing.  So many memories washed over me that day.  My Dad loved Colorado and all of its scenic glory. At our destination hotel that evening we had a beautiful view of the Colorado River from the balcony of our hotel room along with our glasses of wine.

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Random tourists taking pictures of my Mom’s Honda.

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The Eisenhower Tunnel

 

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Rocky Mountain High

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Colorado River in Silt, CO

The following day our drive took us through Grand Junction, Colorado along the I-70 to Cedar City, Utah.  The most amazing scenery on this day was the Black Dragon Canyon near Green River, Colorado.  My words cannot do justice to the beauty of the landscape here.  Plus we saw the biggest thunder-cloud we had ever seen.  We skirted around the rain for a bit, and then drove right through it.  Wow!  Looking back at our pictures and Facebook posts apparently we ditched our movie watching theme after the second night.

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Thunder Cloud!

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Big thunder cloud / Photo credit-JW

Once we got to Utah all three of us were ready to be back in California.  My Mom needed her hugs from the grand-kids.  They had not seen her since the end of May.  The last day of our travels we blasted through Utah, a teeny, tiny corner of Arizona, Nevada and made it to our home destination in California.  Travel Man did all of the driving for this trip.  What a trooper!  We are forever grateful for his travel experiences, they always help us get where we need to be.  And yes we did have an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile sighting on this day, in Las Vegas.  Always a funny site to see on the road.

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This trip will be forever ingrained in my memory bank.  Seeing my Mom’s sadness and listening to her reflect on such great family times with my Dad, and then being able to share some laughs and some tears with her was a necessary part of the grieving process.  My parents were the most loving couple I have ever known, and yes I am partial because they are my parents.  We were so grateful to help my Mom complete the trip she had started with my Dad on the 4th of June 2013.  We traveled the route they would have taken home together.

My Mom wrote about her journey with my Dad on her blog joanontheroad.com.  It’s a great story, and will bring a tear to your eye. A few lessons I have learned about family in the last couple of years;  If you have a chance to visit your family don’t pass it up.  If you have the time to take some pictures with your family members grab your camera and get it done.  I realized while composing this story I am so thankful for the pictures we took.  It allowed me to finally share this story, and put it on the family’s’ history pages for years and years to come.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

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