A great conversation the other day led down the path of what we choose to do with the money we have. We talked about how much money we need to spend on our home, how big of a house is "too big," and the benefits or drawbacks of spending money on renovations.
My friend commented: "Each year we save some money to spend on renovating our (century) home. But it makes me wonder, down the road, if our children will have noticed or cared that we refinished the floors, or installed a new bathtub."
My two cents: "Our family of five lived in a 900 square foot home until I was 15. As an adult, I have visited the exact model of home I lived in. It is really tiny. But as a child, I have no concept of big or small houses. It was home. Even knowing now how small it really is, my childhood memories cannot seem to readjust to that reality."
What I do remember from my childhood are the two stints we lived in England, the two vacations to Australia/New Zealand, driving to Florida, driving out to the east coast of Canada, and many flights out west to visit my dad's family. My parents purposely chose to have a small mortgage to free up money to travel.
In addition, the other best-loved childhood memory is the yearly camping trips my grandmother took us on. Two weeks where she and her sister took their grandchildren camping to the same resort every year. There were fishing awards and campfires and talent shows and sandcastle building contests and baseball and running in the warm rain and... and... and...
What it all made me realize is that it's the traditions that my children will remember. The big vacations will be spectacular, but also the more local travel that happens year in and year out, that will have a chance to etch themselves indelibly in their memories.
We have a few started already. Each July we trek down to New York State to see a large outdoor pageant put on by our church (the largest outdoor pageant in North America.) And then in the winter we head back to the same spot to see some of the historical sites of our church (that are way too busy to visit in July), and to visit the Museum of Play in Rochester.
But I had a thought the other day, just the seed of an idea but one I'm excited about. We read regularly from the scriptures, but sometimes it's hard to make the stories come alive in the kids' mind. I want to help them really understand what these events were like. So each year (maybe starting next year, or the year after) I want to plan a weekend trip of the "Living Scriptures."
For example, if you know the story of Nephi, I am thinking of one day having James come home from work and tell the boys to pack a bag, we're leaving. Then we drive (hike/bike depending on the ages) and pitch our tents to camp for the weekend. The rest of the time will be filled with activities based on the events of Nephi's life: going back to town to get their scriptures, going back to town to get another family to travel with, building a boat, canoeing, hunting for food, etc.
My hope is that each year we can create an experience that brings the scriptures to life in their minds, and creates some common experiences as a family that they will look back and remember fondly when they are adults.