Traditions With Dad
By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS
One of my favorite traditions when I was a boy was spending time with my dad in our local Hallmark card store on his birthday. I can vividly remember between the ages of 10-15 years old going to the Hallmark store and reading every birthday card made for dads. Because I didn’t have money to buy the cards, we would just read them together and pick out ones that made us laugh. My memories of those 15 or 20 minutes we spent together in the card store each year still fill me with love and gratitude.
My dad died of a heart attack when I was 20 years old, and he has been gone for almost 20 years now (Feb 19, 1992), but I still think about that birthday tradition. Dad’s birthday would have been a few days ago (Feb 6th), so earlier this week, I drove to the local card shop and spent about 20 minutes just perusing through the “Dad Birthday” cards. Just like WE used to do. Twenty minutes of smiling, laughing, and remembering.
It’s been way too long since I’ve “re-enacted” the tradition I once shared with my dad. It felt great, and it got me thinking that sometimes the simplest traditions are the most meaningful. Card “shopping” with my dad didn’t cost a dime, but it was a great celebration of his birthday. We shared TIME together. And it became our tradition.
TIME. The most precious commodity each of us has to share with another. How is it that we get a fresh supply of it everyday, yet we never seem to have enough? I know what you’re thinking: “I’m always so busy.” Heck, I’m right there with you. But not earlier this week. Not on Feb 6, 2012. I put a lid on the “crazy busy” of my typical day and took a trip to the card store in honor of my dad and our birthday tradition from so many years ago.
Sometimes we get so caught up in all that we have to do. Our list seems to go forever, but with all the hustle and bustle of work and family life, we really are at risk for “missing the forest for the trees.” We have great intentions to spend quality time with loved ones. We dream about family vacations, romantic getaways, total relaxation, mellow-yellow time… Call it what you will – but does it happen enough? Are you making memories? Are you creating traditions?
My friend, nothing is as valuable as the gift of your TIME.
Later that night, after my trip to the card store, I broke open a folder of many of my dad’s old hand-written letters he wrote to me when I was in college. Can you imagine… I received a letter from my dad EVERY SINGLE DAY while I was at William & Mary. I sat down and read the final ones before he passed away. Twenty-years later, they still IMPACT me strongly.
So here’s my message for you: Don’t wait for a birthday or a holiday to start an awesome tradition with someone you love. Ask yourself, “What can I do to create a tradition that will IMPACT someone I love today… and maybe for generations?
- Hand-write a letter to your spouse or your child.
- Write a love-letter to that special someone… just like you used to do.
- Start calling or texting once a day just to say hi or I love you.
- Surprise an older parent with an entire day of your time. Offer to do anything they need or want: cooking, cleaning, gardening, home repairs, lunch and a movie, a walk on the beach, shopping, etc.
- Book a vacation – anywhere, any length, anytime.
- Videotape an interview-style gratitude journal at your next family gathering. Upload it to YouTube with an “unlisted” video link just for family and friends.
- Call your best friend and play hooky for a day.
- Go to baseball Spring Training in Arizona or Florida.
- Interview a grandparent or older parent and take notes. Show your interest in their early memories and beloved stories.
- Pay the day rate at the nicest hotel in your town, get in a great workout, and lounge around the pool and spa for a whole day.
- Start a game night or movie night tradition in your home.
- Stop wondering if you would enjoy camping, and find out. Borrow equipment for your first outing and have an adventure.
- Really get crazy and pick a night when “Kids Make the Rules.” Be ready for ice cream for dinner and sleeping in a tent in the backyard or family room…
- Videotape each member of your family telling a bedtime story or recalling their favorite memory.
- Plan a regular mother/son or father/daughter outing. Reverse it up next time.
- Go online to one of the photo sites (shutterfly.com, costcophotocenter.com, etc.) and create a “Why I Love You” or “I Think You’re Awesome” photo book for someone special.
- And of course, visit your local card store on special occasions… just like my dad and me.
Traditions are what memories are built upon. They don’t have to cost any money at all, but they do require some thoughtfulness, effort and dedication. It’s all about TIME, our most precious resource. No matter if you can share 20 minutes, 20 hours, or 20 years, spend time with a loved one and start a new tradition. Get busy making memories that will keep you smiling, laughing, and remembering. They will fill you with love and gratitude. Two of my favorite things.
Peace and love,