Today I’m excited. We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and our triplets are home. College this year has no spring break, so they will all be home through January.
Though I could get used to this empty-nester life, there is no joy quite like the joy of having my family together as one. But things will be different. Their taste of independence isn’t blending well with our need for some household rules — simple things like showing up for an occasional meal, or not coming in at five in the morning. We’ll have to make some adjustments on our end and try not to revert to high school rules now that they are spreading their little college freedom wings.
Before COVID, the kids were working, hanging with friends, and had mostly disappeared from the house. Then COVID brought a few months at home as a family, a chance to be together and reconnect. And now, though we’re not in lockdown here (but being careful), we’ll have a couple more months to be together as a family.
Perhaps the same thing is happening to you.
I once learned something from my dad, something I never really knew was happening while we were growing up. I learned that he was deliberate in his effort to make memories.
As the beneficiary of that with my brothers, I assumed those memories just happened. But in fact, many of them were planned, and many of them took a great deal of effort.
I can remember family vacations, with five of us packed into our old Oldsmobile. I can remember being in our T-bird convertible, breaking down on a one-lane road at a pass in Colorado and having to hitchhike into town. I can remember being terrified as we pulled our Airstream trailer up a steep incline, wondering if the car could make it. I remember visiting the White House, the Smithsonian, Mount Vernon, and having flashbacks as if I had been there before. I can remember camping on Lake Erie. I recall getting my grandma to ride on the back of a mini bike (I thought she was really old at the time, but she was younger than I am now). I remember the first time I heard my dad swear, when he hurt his finger while working on the boat engine (I was mortified). I can remember my mom bringing home a six-pack of beer, something we never had in our household, so she could wash her hair in it (or so we were told), and hiding it from my grandparents.
I could go on.
If this were a competition between my parents and us as parents, I’m afraid my parents have done a better job of creating memories than we have, though we’ve created a bunch.
A New Chance
Now, I’m blessed with two months to make memories. And though I’ll be fighting whining kids who want to hang with friends, I’m sure my parents had to battle the same things. The only difference is that they did not have to battle cell phones and video games — though they did have to battle our addiction to black-and-white, then color TV, and shows like Dark Shadows, The Monkees, and Bonanza.
I’m not sure what memories I’m going to create, but I’ve decided I’m willing to endure the unpopularity of pushing through to get them to do something.
What about you?
We have the month before, Christmas, and possibly more time in quarantine together, and they will be home till mid-January. What will we do differently this year? What will they remember?
I can’t remember much about my wedding, but I can remember when the horse from the horse and buggy pooped during the ceremony and everyone laughed. I can remember stumbling into a couple of guests making love in the sauna during the reception. Sometimes the best memories come from the things that go wrong … like the car breaking down or the horse pooping.
I suspect you’ll find us all packed into our camper for a weekend trip or two, maybe a longer drive. Or maybe we’ll bake COVID cookies with little icing face masks. I’ve bought some silly turkey hats for Thanksgiving. And I plan to crank up the music for a little dance party.
Will I be ridiculed? Absolutely. But it will be worth it.
The ultimate test … when my kids are staring at my cold dead body at my funeral, and gathering afterward for a meal, I want them to remember the turkey hats from this Thanksgiving, decorating the Christmas tree and the dance party. I don’t want them to be thinking that we never did anything or had any fun.
I have special memories of my great-grandparents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my parents and siblings. To me the greatest loss I could experience is not just the loss of those people, it would be the loss of the memories they created, intentionally or unintentionally.
What memories will you create with your family?
Be deliberate. The best things in life often take the most effort.
PS: Monday will be day #250 of doing a daily “broadcast” on social media. We’re getting an average of 10,600 views a day and exposing tens of thousands to art lessons live. Tomorrow I’ll give away some big prizes and we’re holding The Battle of the Mediums. Four artists painting in oil, watercolor, gouache, and pastel at once, so see who wins the prize. And we have prizes for you that we are giving away during the live 12noon broadcast. Join us here at noon.
I’m really excited. Here I was worried about surviving and staying in business, and because we pivoted to virtual online art conferences, we’re probably going to survive. Yay! But I’ve got to keep it going to keep all these wonderful people employed so they can make memories for their families. If you think you might like to learn watercolor, even if you don’t believe you have the talent, sign up for my Watercolor Live learning event in January. Somehow we’ve managed to get the very best watercolor masters in the world to teach, and we’ve also created a Beginner’s Day. I’d be grateful if you would check it out and maybe give it to someone as a Christmas gift.
Thank you for all the wonderful Sunday Coffee messages, 250 daily broadcasts, instructional videos and countless words of human kindness. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about art and life from artists all over the world through your effort to connect others from your broadcasts on the internet. During this difficult time, you are an inspiration to us all. Many thanks.
God Bless and thank you so much for all you do for Us Artists …. your videos and podcasts have been a life saver as well as astronomical amount of instructions and insight…
Bravo Eric! Here’s to living out loud and authentically! Continue to make those memories and dance like no one’s watching. As an artist – this is the only way to be! Make every memory count – happiest of holidays to you and your family.
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I enjoy reading about your family. I’m a widow and Covid has made me alone for the holidays. I do especially miss painting with my Plein air friends. Prayers that this pandemic will soon pass. Keep cheering us up until covid is defeated.
I bet that your kids have more memories with you than you realize. Now that my parents are older I find myself trying very hard to make memories with them More so, finding ways to get them out of the house. A few weeks ago I drove them out to a magical place southwest of Milwaukee called Paradise Springs. Not only did they love getting to go, we had ourselves an adventure looking for another place they remembered from years ago. Turned out it closed then burned down many years ago. But we had much fun!
I find it interesting to see how rolls have changed.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!
My parents made trips from Iowa to California when we were all youngsters. Many sights and memories were made. Then my sisters started leaving Iowa. I was still in the area and had horses. I took Appaloosa Trail rides following the Nez Perce war trail . My dad decided he would like to go one at the age of 72. He had a good time and told me one day he’s like to go on another one before he got too old. He was then 80 years old. His eyesight was not good but the horse was dependable so he made the trip. The ride is over 5 days with around 20 miles a day. He was very tired a couple of those days but came through it in great spirits. Age is only a number.
Eric, you are a treasure. Thank you for this. Not only did it dredge up lovely memories from my own childhood and raising my own sons, but it made me very warm and cozy thinking of the memories we are making with our grands. Sometimes it’s something serendipitous, other times full on planning. It’s all good!
Thank you for all you do, sir.
Love your thoughts on the family.
Just a brief Thank You Eric, for your insights to the Human Condition.
Just having turned 72 and having raised 3, I can relate on many levels.
Way back when I received my BA in Fine arts.
It help me be very successful in an unrelated Sales career in my opinion.
Thanks to you and your efforts to help others I’m being creative again.
PS my Wife having been raised in China and a career in PE ,has become quite the beginning Realist.
PSS your so similar to my X father in law who had a career in NY and Hollyweird as a producer and Ad Ex for NBC working with people like
Pat Weaver in the early days of radio and TV…
Your article brought back fond memories of countless camping trips back in the 60’s, 70’s, and up through the 90’s. Our favorite spot was on the island at Priest Lake in northern Idaho. Mom and Dad made a concerted effort to create memories. I could certainly relate to your story about Dad working on the boat. My Dad had a mini baseball bat he’d occasionally use to free up the starter on our old outboard. Still remember him spewing a few cuss words as he would pull the cowling off. Dad will be 93 in another month – and thankfully he’s still as sharp as ever.
Eric… Here’s hoping you and your family have a very memorable Christmas and New Year.
Eric, I’m83, grew up in India. I have different memories than you. I have tried to create memories to my children and grand children. I have written down some of my growing up memories to keep it alive for my brood.
Thank you for keeping the Art community alive and stimulated with your effort for the past 250 days.
Stay safe and create more memories friend!
Really terrific- great thoughts, thank you!
I’ve been amazed at the things my “kids” (aged 48 and 46) remember fondly. My son gave me a little plaque last year with the word, “I love you a bushel and a peck”on it. I asked if he remembered my singing that to him. His response, “Mom, why do you think I just had to get that for you”. My daughter recently told her favorite memory was walking in a snowstorm one day with me singing “Winter Wonderland”. I was stunned. If you every heard me sing, you would have questions about why they remembered those events.
I just turned 91 and I loved your writing. Does bring back some memories. At school age, Art was my best subject. Thinking about starting again after all these years of going dorment.