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Who Brought the Marshmallows?

Remember when you were a child and summertime held that promise of days on end of sun and fun? It was a break between the ending of one schoolyear and the start of the next. Perhaps you enjoyed more time with your family, perhaps you went on a road trip to visit grandma and grandpa, or attended a family reunion. As you aged, you likely held your first job during the summer. You tried on “grown up” responsibilities as you served up ice cream or helped with harvesting crops. Summer is a different (often unscheduled) time of year that sets the stage for many sweet memories.

When I was growing up, prior to my entre into the workforce, summer meant the start of the horse showing season that culminated with the County Fair in August. We spent most weekends hauling our horses to nearby shows and riding the best we knew how. It was hot, dusty, and memorable. I learned much from this activity. Hard work – sure, and learnings about competition and preparation as well. We would wake up early to feed our horses sometimes to only observe that the laid in manure as they slept resulting in a significant green spot on their sides. That meant an early morning bath. An activity that could only take place if you were up early and allowed for extra time. Be prepared, a horse-showing mantra.

What about you? What did you learn during summer vacation? Maybe you learned to waterski or how to start a campfire. What were the life skills that only came because of this unstructured time to explore?

Perhaps you learned about the value of family and sharing. My husband’s side of the family goes on an annual family campout each year to the lake. It is a coordinated effort that requires all parties to pitch in. Someone has a boat; somebody else has extra chairs or firewood. Somebody brings the marshmallows (because no family camping trip is complete without Smores!). The pictures from the occasion show smiling faces as the family relishes time spent together. We live several states away and our children are grown, however they still talk about their time at these campouts and being pulled by a boat while riding on an inner tube. Great fun!

When I record clients as their share their stories, I always ask about summer vacations. Some folks don’t recall any yet many more recall wonderful memories filled with family and fun. Perhaps some of those traditions live on through this day. Have you ever wondered where they started? Who began this tradition that has grown and expanded as more kids have been added to the fold? Is there a family cabin that has been a family gathering point for generations? How did that start? Who purchased it and how did they envision its use? Who tells the best stories around the campfire? Who got lost and now jokes about it every year?

Families are filled with traditions that have special meaning to them. Summer is often a time of year that reveals some of those traditions. What are your family traditions? Share some of those here or, better yet, record them. Have other members of the family add in their favorite moments. Collect an assortment of memories that represent your family. Every year you can add to it and see what a beautiful life you are building together as a group of friends and family.