Many years ago, I read an article and the truths it has poured into my life are well worth sharing. I would find it for you but I have slept since then, and the too many hours of searching, reading, digging and googling have turned up nothing. If this saying is yours, if this idea was generated from your lovely world view, please tell me! I’d love to talk to you for a few
To create memories with your children, do something once or do it always.
I am certain my parents practiced this subconsciously. So many of the memories from my childhood that are seared into our family consciousness fall into these two categories. I would guess that at least a few of my 4 brothers have the same or similar memories.
Always on Sunday, my dad would give me one dollar and I would ride my bike to the 7-eleven to purchase a Sunday Paper. In all actuality, it probably happened for less than a year. But in my memory it was the gift of freedom and responsibility. I would wake up every single Sunday early and excited! It was my JOB and I was proud of it.
Always on report card day, the 7 of us would walk to the ice cream shop. In our little town in Michigan this ice cream shop was famous. The only day we earned a visit was report card day. I moved from that town when I was 10 and I still remember the ice cream shop with the 21 scoop Sundae.
My family took summer vacations. With 5 children on 1 salary there wasn’t much room for fancy, so we camped. ALWAYS. I have incredible memories around a nightly campfire, singing with a guitar and reading a book in a hammock.
Those “Always” memories make me feel warm, safe, and loved.
There was one time in my young life that we stayed in a hotel. We were moving across the country, and we stayed at the Red Roof Inn. That was almost 30 years ago and I can still remember the comforter on the bed, where the bathroom was located, and where the adjoining door to my parent’s room was. That one hotel room experience was magical.
Our new home was in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many Sundays after church we would pack a giant cooler and spend the day hiking, or at a picnic area on a river. No matter what we did we always packed a picnic.
There was one time we stopped at a Western Steer buffet on our way back home. I remember my brothers gorging themselves to sickness on mashed potatoes and creamed corn. I remember passing that Western Steer every other trip to and from the mountains. Each time, or so it seemed, we would reminisce about that one day that we shared a meal there.
One time, on an especially long and hot camping excursion with the family, mom brought home a carton of ice cream and 7 little plastic spoons. We all sat in a circle and spoonful by spoonful we emptied that carton. We still share “The Ice Cream Story” frequently.
Those singular experiences, in my young life, made me feel exciting and adventurous. They gave me a sense of wonder and awe for the world around me.
For my own children, we try so very hard to do it once or do it always. We do Taco Tuesday every single Tuesday evening. Most weeks is actual tacos, some weeks are fancy, you know, enchiladas or burritos. Once a year, we go out to a Mexican Restaurant! All year long we look forward to that one Tuesday trip.
Please note: We go out for Mexican WAY more than once/year. It’s just that we make sure we don’t do it on Taco Tuesday, that “once” is pretty incredible.
We always do Pizza and a movie on Friday night. As the children get older, we have included friends and neighbors. We have been missing a child or two along the way, but always there is pizza and a movie on Friday night. One day, when the toddler is no longer a toddler, maybe we will go out for Pizza and a movie, just once.
Just once a year, I take a day trip with my big kid. The first year we spent the day riding roller coasters, which was an epic disaster. The next few years were spent at a water park. The rules are simple. We bring no friends, no siblings, no phones or anything else that connects us to the outside world. It’s just him and me and a whole day to play. We talk about it all year. Do it once. I promise you, it is worth it.
Our “always” things are easy to manage. The children remind us or it is so ingrained in our life we hardly have to think about it. We always trick-or-treat with just the family. As Connor has gotten older it’s gotten harder to commit, but we borrow him for a few minutes of treating before he runs off with his friends. We always have monkey bread on Thanksgiving, and Christmas mornings. It reminds us of home and the comfort of family when we are far from them.
These are just a few examples of our “Do it once or do it always” family experiences. I am certain there are many traditions in your home that you do always. What makes them special to your family story? What gives those “always” things life and meaning?
And what about the “once?” The “once” has found it’s place equal in value to us. What “once” events or memories have you created with your family? Was it that one trip to Disney world? Or what about that one time you danced in the rain?
Always or Once has made us more intentional about our daily life and helped us to shape our family story. How will you continue to shape yours?
Every year, at least once, we go to the beach!