In a given year, there countless milestones that we celebrate. There’s the obvious personal ones like birthdays and anniversaries but then there are the more generic ones that comprise the year. Especially when you have kids, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day take on celebrations that are probably very different than they were sans kids. But each time there’s a chance to dress up, eat different foods and make the day just a little more fun – I’m all in. As the years progress, these holidays and celebrations have become giant milestones in our year (for nothing more than an a photo opp where you can document the growth of our children).
More than that, they fill up our lives with extra joy. Halloween is not just about going to Target and buying an over-priced costume, but rather the customs we’ve come to appreciate – going back home with friends and eating chili, hanging up certain decorations year after year and spending a day carving pumpkins. It’s not just about doing these things but continuing to make these memories.
This past weekend was Memorial Day. Yes, Memorial Day is designed for us to memorialize our fallen soldiers. Yes, Memorial Day has a meaning far more than how we normally celebrate. But year after year Memorial Day has a specific feel. We spend time with our family, we visit with friends, we have bbqs, pools open, etc. Without those things happening, without the experiences we have come to expect out of this holiday – is it really the holiday for us?
We are starting summer. When you live in Chicago, summer is a VERY big deal. In many ways, it feels like we have to create a whole year of fun times outside to make up for the bad weather all year. And with those fun times come all the things we are used to doing to signify summer in Chicago. Without tickets to a Cubs game, without fireworks for 4th of July, without pool play dates, without concerts in the park, without travel baseball, without overnight camp can it really be summer?
Have you tried buying a new bike? What about a blow up pool? People across the country (or maybe just the Northshore of Chicago which feels like the world when you’re living in it) are making every effort to save the summer. Without all the milestones of a traditional summer, is our only option to buy an inflatable pool to save summer? Is the only way to make summer feel right to buy every piece of sporting equipment we can get our hands on? How else are we going to keep our children busy and outside?
Would our kids know what to do on Christmas or Chanukah if we didn’t create these customs? Do they come out of the womb saying that they need to sit on Santa Claus’ lap? We teach them the fun of these holidays, we create customs that become memories. So this summer isn’t going to be easy because the normal annual summer experiences won’t be there to lead us the way they normally do. It doesn’t mean the weather won’t be warm. It doesn’t mean that the 4th of July Independence Day won’t happen. It just means that we, as parents, are going to have to work harder to make them special. We won’t have the help of fireworks but we’ll have to create the joy of fireworks another way. It might not be easy but something tells me this summer may be more memorable than the last four combined!