Boiled custard, warm cookies, and roasting marshmallows

We asked our kids the other day where they wanted to go for the family vacation next summer. We anticipated something like the beach, or Mexico, or maybe a theme park of some kind. Instead, the answer we got from all of them was “We want to go back to the mountains.”

As a family we have gone to the mountains many times for family vacation. We rent a cabin, cook our meals, roast marshmallows, and spend time doing various nature activities. We have done pretty much everything we can do up there, but we have realized that it’s not really the number of things we do or trying to come up with something different to do. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the fact that
we do them there, in the mountains, as a family.

Every Christmas around our house there are things that we do as a family. We decorate the tree as soon as we can get away with it. We play lots of Christmas music. We always have a jug of boiled custard in the fridge. And when we decorate the tree we make a party out of it, complete with lots of snacks, especially warm chocolate chip cookies.

For many years we have also put up our Christmas houses. You know, those little ceramic decorative displays that light up? It’s quite a chore to get all the boxes down, set them up, and get them all lit up. So this year we thought about not doing the houses. But our kids let us know real quick that we needed to do the houses.

My wife and I realized that this was one of things, like going to the mountains. You see to our kids, putting up the Christmas houses is part of who we are. Christmas isn’t Christmas unless we do that. We set aside time, all of us, to decorate the tree, listen to Christmas music, and eat warm cookies. It’s those little traditions that are just as important a part of our family as who our grandparents are.

Our children will look back on these years and cherish these little things that will forever be a part of what and who our family is. I imagine that even when all my children are gone I will still drag those Christmas houses out of the attic every year and put them up. Because when they come home for Christmas I want them to remember what it means to be a part of this family.

For vacation we will indeed be going to the mountains again this year. Board games, roasting marshmallows, and swimming in the streams is what I am pretty sure we will be doing. And I am more than ok with that. Because I want to honor all these memories that we have worked so hard to remain faithful to every year. It’s part of what it means to be in this family. And it’s part of who they are. And when they have a family of their own I just know that this little collection of memories we have collected for them will lead them to make their own special memories for their family.

And I can’t think of anything better to give them than that. Merry Christmas kids.