I saw a lot of the country riding backwards in the back of that station wagon and came away from these experiences with lots of memories, like the time we took a wrong exit in Buffalo, NY on our way to Niagara Falls and ended up in a rough neighborhood complete with streetwalkers. My mom kept saying, “Don’t look at them. Stop staring,” as we pressed our faces to the windows and gawked. (Politeness has always been a priority in my family.)
I’m glad we have this, and many other stories, to laugh about now. I think of stories as the thread that holds a family together and gives us a sense of who we are and where we belong. Memories can be created many ways, but I really want our kids to have some of the same experiences my husband and I had growing up. Hence, we take road trips.
Most every year our destination is the same, my hometown to visit relatives. They look forward to it every year, which pleases me very much. I want our kids to have a connection with their extended family and know where they belong in this big old world. And I just know we are creating fun memories.
Going to the same place might seem a bit predictable and boring, but there is also some comfort in the familiar. One tradition my kids look forward to is receiving a goodie bag every time we cross a state line. We cross four state lines to get there and back. I started this practice when our son was a toddler and now he’s twelve. (Our daughter is seven.) It’s more work for me, especially with two kids, but it is something they count on and it makes the trip more fun.
This year was very enjoyable. Our kids’ personalities have blossomed so much and they both are incredibly funny and smart. (Yes, I know all mothers think that of their kids.) But they really are great fun to have around, and my husband is one of my favorite people in the world. Here are some of my favorite moments.
We played a game of “Unfortunately, Fortunately” where one person creates a bad scenario (Unfortunately, a giant hawk named Bob carried away the car) and the next adds something to get us out of the predicament (Fortunately, we had anti-hawk spray…). Our daughter kept coming up with these totally outrageous and almost nonsensical things.
When our son would say, “You can’t do that”, she’d respond with, “I can do anything with my imagination.”
Our daughter also wrote a story for us – “There was a lovely princess and a queen who loved her very much. The queen married and they lived happily ever after.” My son’s critique, “That wasn’t much of a plot.”
On the trip, our son developed an annoying habit of saying, “Or will I? Or did I? Or shall I?” at the end of everything we said to him. Just when I thought I might go insane, our daughter added dramatic music after each time he said it. “Dun, dun, dun.” Much to his chagrin, she continued to do this after he said anything for the next fifteen minutes. We were all rolling, and secretly happy for little sister revenge.
My husband told us about a t-shirt he’d seen that said, “Only you can prevent forest fires, Craig.” So, since every family needs a scapegoat and none of us wanted the role, we adopted Craig. And boy, did he get blamed for a lot. Who spilled the chips in the car, Craig?
At our destination, we did lots of fun things, like mini-golf, bumper boats and go-carts. And we watched Netflix movies at night. But probably one thing the kids liked the best was when we stopped at a hotel on our way home in a small Iowa town and stayed in the “suite”. It had a Jacuzzi tub in the room, which our kids called a hot tub. We donned our swimsuits and piled in then watched a movie on the flat screen. They kept going on and on about what a nice room it was. It was heaven for them and so cute.
I hope someday they will look back on these trips with fondness. I know I will.
What is a favorite memory you have from a family vacation (holiday, for our Aussie friends)?