We camped for forty days and nights around Eastern Canada and the U.S. and had so many adventures along the way. That trip contained such blissful long summer day memories and was my favorite vacation as a child.
The memories which spring to mind first are all the new animals we saw for the first time (or smelt: skunks being a foreign novelty to New Zealanders). A mother moose with her baby on the side of the road staring at us as my father leaned in across the road for a photo (yes, yes, not the wisest move in hindsight but nothing went wrong that day). A fat furry raccoon stuck bottoms up in a chimney, struggling for hours to get out. A snake which looked like a stick on the path in front of me on my way to the campground shower. Bears eating from a box of New Zealand (!) apples at a local garbage dump at dusk. Chipmunks surrounding me (and my lunch) in a park in Montréal. Chasing and catching fireflies in mason jars with kids we befriended. Beavers working on their dams in the lakes of Algonquin Park. Looking so hard to see beluga and minke whales from the shores of St. Lawrence that our eyes began seeing things. The curse of black flies. And the great blue heron which pooped a giant one from high above down into the pancake mixture my father was stirring on the picnic table in Prince Edward Island and covered the entire thing. Dad had a twinkle in his eye when he said we could just scrape it off the top. We all fell about half laughing, half in horror looking at the mess in the bowl in his arms — was he kidding? I don’t remember what we ate instead that day. Sometimes the things that went wrong make for the funniest stories to share.
I recently told my children this story, and the number of times that they have repeated it to each other and to others since made me realize the ongoing value of sharing our stories. I resolved to tell more of my stories to them, little by little, so they become woven into their memories too.
Printing photos out help too, something to give you a reference point and to help spark your memories. We have a wall in our kitchen which is completely covered with a collage of cheaply printed photos of us, friends, people and places from our travels. The photos aren’t perfectly arranged, they’re much-covered in fingerprints and often pulled off by the little ones and hastily placed back on by us as we cook their dinner. The number of times our youngest stops by and points out things in those photos and laughs and says a few words about Disneyland makes me smile.
I try to print off photo yearbooks too, but I’m lagging behind by a few years. It’s on that never-ending to-do list for when I have nothing else to do — I think all Moms feel a bit like this about photo albums. I love putting them together when I do though and love flipping through the pages with our kids every so often. They remember different things than we do, and I love hearing what they want to share with us.
However you share your memories — words, photos, videos — it is worth it. Kids love stories. Actually we all do.