I turned 29 last week. My parents still sing me happy birthday and my remaining grandparents send me birthday cards that always magically arrive on my birthday.
Singing the birthday song is one of those traditions that I will think of when I turn 79 and am recounting the years gone by. It is just a song, 30 seconds on the phone, but then again it stands for so much more – love, caring, remembering, goofiness, tradition, and family. Families change, all of them, in one way or another. But no matter the changes that have come about in my family, there are always those formative years when I was younger that stick out in my mind.
I recently found this picture of my family. Its us at a time my memory is just beginning to stick with me. I recall these days of poofy hair, big glasses, and togetherness. But no matter the changes that have come about in the years since this picture (children, moving, job and life changes, divorce, remarrying, more kids, more life changes…) I still feel connected to these people. My family. My roots. They’re not always my favorite people, but they’re my family. Countless books and movies have been written and made on family – the importance and strength of it – realizing what you’ve got and cherishing it. I can depend on my family for absolutely anything and I can definitely count on them for a birthday song or two.
This singing ritual shows that my family is thinking of me, no matter the miles between us or how recently we saw each other last. It makes me feel loved and special, makes me realize what I’ve got and aim to cherish it. Even if it’s only a small card in the mail or a 30 second phone call, it stays with me much, much longer than that.
As a parent, I am constantly reminded of all the little things that make children happy.
Ice cream. Chocolate milk. Marshmallows. Merry go rounds. Swinging. Grass under toes. Wood chips. Music – no particular type, just music to move with. Reading the same book over and over and over again. Being outside. Being the leader. Walking. Running. Rocks. Bath time. Noises, lots of noises. Sirens. Firetrucks. Animals, absolutely any kind of animal. Climbing stairs. Friends – meeting another person their same size. Watching you make silly faces. Looking at themselves in the mirror. High fives. Peek-a-boo. Tickles. Kisses. The list goes on and on.
Last night, James found a small incline of dirt that seemed in his mind to be a mountain that he was running down. He spent several minutes walking up and down this hill, smiling with accomplishment at the bottom. Some of my friends commented on how nice it is to be so intrigued with something that it brought you complete joy. That’s one of the many wonderful things about having children. It gives you a chance to see the world through a new perspective, through eyes that see everything as something extraordinary.
Like the rain today. James stands at the door licking the cold glass and watching the rain fall. His dirt hill is mud today, but that’s okay. He’d probably think that was amazing.
So I just realized I have been sitting at my laptop for 45 minutes playing with the theme of my blog. Not blogging, not doing anything slightly productive, but looking at different themes and fonts.
And as someone who is not a computer pro, I have also spent the time educating myself (in a “For Dummies” book sort of way) on what the heck a widget is. Still not sure I understand, but I like the way my site looks.
Goodbye computer. I’ve had my fair share of you today.
Every family has its traditions. I have married into a family with a “farm”. As I got to know the Greens, I heard stories about their grandparents’ farm with its pond and cows. I had visions of hay bales, large red barns, and old wooden fences to keep animals of all sorts where they belong. But that vision wasn’t quite right.
The farm is land. Plain. Simple. Humble land. As I have continued to come to the farm more and more each year, I have come to know why they are so fond of it. It grows on you. It becomes a part of you. And the thought of it instantly brings a sort of calming presence to your day – knowing that you will soon be there and can ignore cell phones, computers, and just immerse yourself into nature and family.
We all congregated at the farm on Sunday for a good Labor Day weekend camp out. The first thing James did was fall flat on his face to brand his nose with an old fashioned “strawberry” from the farm. He then played trucks with his cousin in the dirt and grass. Miles joined the uncles at the pond to paddle boat and fish and then began his Call of Duty play by play with the BB gun.
The farm comes equipped with a camper, two porch swings, picnic tables, a tire swing, and a canoe and paddle boat at the pond. But if there’s one thing the boys will remember about the farm, it is the tractor. Whether it is going anywhere or not, this mammoth machine seems to be a magnet for children and adults alike. We camped in our tent in what I considered to be a perfect, slightly chilly camping night. The stars shone brightly and we fell asleep listening to the fire crackle and coyotes howl in the distance.
As I was laying in bed last night, I thought of all the wonderful parts of my long weekend. I went to a wedding on Friday with a group of friends, spent Sunday afternoon at my family’s lunch gathering, and ended it with camping. I felt wonderfully blessed to have such a large, caring group of people – family and friends – to spend time with. No matter where I was this weekend, I was with people I love and who love me.