My grandfather once challenged me thusly — “If you don’t have traditions in your family, make some.”
Pop grew up without a lot of family traditions. In fact, it seems that his family showcased a certain type of dysfunction, decades before anyone called it that. When he got married and had kids he wanted to push back against that so he created traditions — family outings, an expensive family dinner every year and plenty of other ways to cement the family foundation. I’m grateful that I was a part of all that before he passed last year.
I strive to keep his mantra and memory alive with my own traditions and my favorite occurs every summer. I called the Family Fun Series. Each week I try to plan one adventure for my wife and kids that takes us to a new place or gives us a new perspective on our lives, our community and the culture around us. I must admit — sometimes my ideas are somewhat pedestrian but it’s hard to hit a home run each time up to the plate.
This summer we’ve learned about mastodons, crocodiles, meteorites and the world’s oldest manatee, Snooty, at the South Florida Museum, watched sharks and alligators get fed, taken a boat ride to a sandbar in the Florida Keys and enjoyed some thrills at Port Discovery in Baltimore. We’ve also seen hit movies, collected bugs in the backyard, blown up a homemade volcano, taken diving lessons and learned about world of bugs at the Discovery and Science Museum in Fort Lauderdale.
Just reading that list makes me exhausted.
Summer is the best time for me. I work nights so I have the mornings to lounge with the kids and play ball, ride bikes or take off on a new journey. It fills mu heart to be able to spend these critical moments with them as they love spending time with their parents while soaking up knowledge about the world around them.
That’s what I want them to remember — the times that we spent together, learning, laughing, exploring our community and the surrounding areas. Maybe they’ll discover something on one of our adventures that captures their interest and becomes a passion.
For instance, my oldest son loves space. We knew that July was a good time to see Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the sky so after a visit to a planetarium, my wife downloaded a free smartphone app, SkyView, that shows you where the planets and constellations are. It floored him.
As we gazed to the heavens and soaked in the beauty of the planets, my thoughts turned to my grandfather. I knew in that moment that he was smiling and happy knowing that we were keeping his family traditions alive.