We were sitting on the lip of a waterfall in a remote area of the west coast of Vancouver Island. A wrong turn on our backpacking trail and the incoming ocean tide forced us to climb to a spectacular roosting spot. This was just one of several memorable moments in a seven day backpacking adventure with my sixteen year old daughter on the famed West Coast Trail.
The trip was originally planned with a larger group of people, all of whom had backed out. Yet we were determined to go anyways, even by ourselves. So we headed out to blaze the trail on our own. During those seven days together we made lifelong memories, shared some great experiences and bonded even more deeply as dad and daughter.
Sharing memorable moments creates relational glue that pays major dividends. Normally these moments are created through intentionally planned actions, but others have become part of our family biography through unplanned events.
Some of my fondest family memories have been experienced through…
Tent camping trips with friends
Regular visits to a friend’s cottage on the Muskegon River
Being blindfolded and kidnapped on my 50th birthday
Regular fishing trips to Como Lake Resort in Northern Ontario
Teaching all four of our children to drive
Cross Country Road Trips
Dad’s special waffles
Family Dinners on Sunday afternoons
One of my more memorable “accidental” moments happened the day our oldest daughter was to go shopping for a prom dress. My wife had something come up at the last minute so with a bit of “man fear,” I filled in and took my daughter shopping. We had so much fun that it officially became a tradition with each of our three daughters. I do not like shopping, let alone for dresses, but this was a unique circumstance and created a special bonding moment with each of them.
A close friend created memorable moments with his children through a “one on one” hiking/camping trip with one child each summer. A short time ago, my friend passed away. At his funeral, each of his children mentioned these times with deep appreciation in their father’s eulogy.
Memorable moments can even be created while walking through some of life’s difficult challenges. Young drivers and car accidents, for example. It has happened to three of our four children. When the phone call came, the first questions were: “Are you okay?” “Was anyone one hurt?” followed by, “I’ll be right there.” We wanted to communicate to our son or daughters they were more important than a damaged car.
While birthdays, anniversaries and holidays can provide perfect opportunities for memorable moments, it’s important to understand what will or will not create a positive memory. A few years ago I planned a surprise birthday party for my wife. In my opinion the party was a huge success. She had been surprised, the party was fun and the food was good. Later that week she said, “Honey, thanks for the party. You did a good job. I know you enjoy a crowd of people around you; however a really great evening for me is a special dinner with you, or just another couple.” Lesson learned.
Another friend surprised his wife by arranging a weekend away. She did not suspect anything till they turned off the exit to the airport. The bags were packed. The arrangements for the kids made. Taking the time in advance to lay the foundational plans for creating memorable moments communicates volumes about how much you care and value your spouse!
This summer think about creating some memorable moments for you and your family. Some may just happen but others will take intentional action. Don’t miss the opportunities!