When I was growing up, we spent a lot of time together as a family. Camping, exploring the mountains and beaches and rain forests in the beautiful state of Washington. I have wonderful memories of those days, and I realize how they shaped my life. My mom was resourceful, adventurous, and hard working. She also loved to get away from her normal routines and responsibilities and find fun things to do. Sledding, skiing, hiking, picking huckleberries, digging clams, riding the ferry, fishing, picnic-ing, finding the sun in Eastern Washington when the rain was too much. My dad was the same way, always up for an adventure. Even to the point of putting chains on the car in the winter (I always wondered if there was a worse task). My parents gave my brother and me the huge gift of seeing them work hard, be responsible, and then enjoy life to the fullest. I also saw them getting a lot from their work. Not that there weren't hard parts, because every job has hard parts. But both of them took great reward from doing their jobs well.
It's the little things that I saw as a child that showed me how well they balanced our lives. I remember the things my dad did to pitch in when my mom worked later than he did. He cooked dinner for us a lot. That may seem like a small thing, but it was a building block in my view of how marriages work. Not that all dads should cook, but that both partners pitch in, both do things to make life better for the family. My dad also took me to ballet when his work permitted, or to clarinet lessons.
It's the little things I remember that showed me how to problem solve. My mom was super flexible, because as a fireman, my dad's schedule of 24 hours on, 48 off, meant that we couldn't set traditions in stone. Christmas was a moveable feast, and we celebrated as a family when my dad was home. My mom made it look easy to work around that schedule. She also could make a frying pan from aluminum foil to cook the fish on camping trips, if by chance the frying pan didn't make it into the box of utensils. I don't remember big drama about that. I just remember we did not go hungry!
It's the little things, the moments of pure joy, that fill my memory of my childhood. Jumping in a freezing cold river in the summer, my parents both participating and laughing. Sitting on a log by a cold racing mountain stream, watching my dad fish while the watermelon chilled in water so cold it hurt your bones. Arriving on top of a mountain in our open-top jeep in time to see the sunset over the beauty below us. Walking the waterfront and listening to the seagulls, anticipating those clam strips at Ivar's.
I'm realizing more than ever that life is sweetest in the small moments. Traveling the world is wonderful, educational, and can also be filled with sweet small moments. But we don't have to leave home to make those moments happen. All we need are grateful hearts and a desire to share what makes us happy. My favorite times with my grandparents were in their own homes, times when they gave me their attention and shared who they were with me in little ways.
It's important for me to remember that waiting for something big to happen in order to be happy makes me miss the magic happening around me today. But it's here, it's now- the magic. In the little things.