I’m currently in the process of preparing for our family’s first big overseas trip (an epic adventure to New York City and Disneyland), which is now just over a week away.
When I say ‘preparing’, I really mean visiting multiple doctors to get an ‘okay’ for dosing my (extremely active) 18-month-old with Phenergan on the flight, rather than, you know, packing a single suitcase. Flight pharmaceuticals aside, this trip has been an emotional six months in the making. In booking the trip, exploring the places we’ll visit and researching the activities we’ll experience as a family, I’ve been daydreaming about the beautiful memories my children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Ice skating and hot chocolates in Central Park … Watching the Disney Parade down Main Street … Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with a bagel … Experiencing It’s A Small World together with tears in our eyes … Lovely, right? I was sharing these same magical visions with my dad a few weeks ago (with a very satisfied undertone, I’ll admit) when he subtly but sharply replied, “Oh yes, just like you talk so fondly about that Bali trip we took when you were four.” Hmm. Dad had a point. The first memory I have of Bali was from a trip as a 16-year-old, which is largely because of a classy henna tattoo that left a scar on my back that’s still visible decades later. It did leave me thinking – how much time do we spend creating memories that our children will never really remember? Whether it be an overseas holiday or a meticulously planned third birthday party, who are we doing this for anyway? Don’t get me wrong. I’m (clearly) all for a well-executed children’s event, regardless of who it’s pleasing. But knowing that it will fly over the heads of our children really does take the pressure off.
As if we needed a reminder – the beauty truly is in the everyday.
My strongest memories from childhood aren’t in the elaborate adventures or the painstaking art activities I’m sure my mother organised (and I, of course, don’t remember). Rather, they’re of baking caramel slice with my grandmother and choreographing dances with my sister. They’re of my uncle ordering a “Fillet-a-Shark” every time he took me to McDonald’s and the toast my mum would make me before my 5am swimming training sessions. I spoke to a few of my closest friends about this theory, and they reiterated the same sentiment. Their childhood memories were of tea and toast in bed with grandma and playing shops with dad. Not a holiday or a party in sight. It’s with this renewed sense of simplicity and ease that I’m now approaching our trip. And if it’s not too preachy and annoying, I recommend we all do the same as we head into this ridiculous holiday season. It’s not the perfectly decorated gingerbread houses, the Instagram-worthy Christmas trees or the colour-coordinated wrapping that our children will remember. It’s the time together. It’s the cuddles. It’s the love. Isn’t that all we really want? On that note, I hope you enjoy the beauty of Christmas and the holidays through the eyes of your beautiful children, and I can’t wait to hear what memories you made in 2019. (That is, as long as I make it back from this flight sans Phenergan.)