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.