What are your fondest family memories? If you were to sit down around the table to reminisce with family or close friends, what is the first story you would tell? I bet it would be a story filled with chaos and mishaps. Why? Because our best stories and fondest memories are often forged from not-so-perfect moments.
Some of my family’s favorite stories and inside jokes come from a stopover we made in Hawaii on one of our trips home from Asia. Now, one might think that they would center on the beautiful scenery or the gorgeous weather, but no. We love to reminisce about our trip to the Dole pineapple plantation.
There, we took a 20 minute tram ride to see fields of black soil, because all of the pineapples had been harvested the week before. The story gets even funnier when we get to the part where our tram ride through fields of dirt was fully narrated and accompanied by Hawaiian music! We laugh and laugh when retelling the story, but at the time it was less than impressive.
Actually, on that same stop, my daughter and I developed one of our most enduring inside jokes. While browsing the gift shop, she noticed that I was the only mom there who was actually wearing a full t-shirt instead of a tank top over a swimsuit; and there were A LOT of people there. Since then, she has pointed out with a smile, “You’re not wearing the Mom uniform!”
We had another planes, trains and automobiles experience years ago in Thailand. Whenever we are around our good friends for any length of time we still laugh about that day. In the context of one vacation, we had to abandon our travel plans because of a storm. Then, we disembarked the train in the pitch black with our young kids and suitcases in tow. Finally, we ended up sleeping, seven-dwarfs style, in a room with nine beds lined up side-to-side and a splash bath. Absolutely nothing went as planned, but we had a blast because we were all in it together.
Our favorite, most cherished family memories are seldom the ones where everything goes perfectly.
I think they stay in the forefront of our memories because we experience them, flaws and all, together.
We are all keenly aware that real life is full of imperfections. We want to make things just right for our kids and we want to give them everything they ever thought they wanted. But ultimately, what they want most from us is our time and our attention.
Oh, and it should be mentioned that our kids don’t always know what they need or want. It’s up to the parent, with the fully developed frontal lobe that controls judgement and insight, to decide what family experiences to engage in.
Whether or not everything goes exactly as we planned, in the end it is the time spent together, the good and mostly the bad, that they will remember and bring up years in the future.
It’s never too late to get out there and make some family memories.
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