What Children Remember About Spring Break

This morning on the walk to school, a little boy tells us his plans for Spring Break. 

All week, we’ve been hearing what other families will enjoy. Between discussions about Disney World and indoor water parks, I’m jealous and sad.  I think about everything my children will miss out on. 

I think about “the good life” and how deprived we are with this tight budget.   I pray for a way out of this bad mood. 

Last year, we drove to New Jersey and then spent a day in New York City.  I took pictures of all the wonderful things my daughters experienced.  Every American family knows, after all, that you’re not really a good parent of daughters unless you visit the American Girl store. 

Back then, I believed the myth that children need fancy in order to feel loved and enjoy their lives. 

Feeding Birds in New York City

So this morning a little boy tells us that he’s going to New York City.  My youngest daughter turns to him and says, “I went last year!  You will not believe how amazing the birds are!” 

The birds?  What about the restaurants, the museums, the shopping?  What about the doll hair salon and the toy stores? 

She doesn’t mention any of it.  What she remembers is sitting on the steps of a building and feeding the pigeons with me.  That lasting memory–the one she cherishes and talks about–cost nothing.  She goes on and on and on about feeding birds

Living with flair doesn’t mean fancy or expensive.   Sometimes I just think it does. 

Journal:  When I’m tempted to think happy memories mean fancy, how can I remember that the best memories often cost nothing? 

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  1. One summer when our kids were little, we loaded up the minivan and drove across America, all the way to Vancouver. We experienced so many incredible things: stunning mountain views, restaurants that served only salmon, the Space Needle, beautiful parks, hiking near huge trees, squirrels the size of cats, waterfalls, ferry rides and more.

    Afterward, I asked my kids what their favorite memories were. For my son, the one thing that stood out as his FAVORITE activity was – the time we ate lunch at a McDonalds somewhere in Idaho.

  2. This is so great. What adorable little Kate remembers is not some glamorous materialistic merchandise or store, but simple (pidgeons – really?), living creatures who assembled in the midst of the “city that never sleeps” to peck at any food you'd be kind enough to share with them. This child's appreciation for beauty needs to be explored more by many adults who passively go through their days in crowded cities, wondering where they can get the most stylish outfit or how much they'll drink this weekend to forget about their crazy weeks. Pause, notice life, and absorb the beauty. It's free!

  3. Hi Heather,
    I will be in NYC this weekend.
    You bet I will check out these special pigeons they have. 🙂
    Thank you so much for another beautyful story and have a wonderful and playful weekend.

  4. My favorite memory of driving cross-country with my family as a child was waking up each morning in the bed that sits over the driver's seat in certain types of RVs and looking out that little window to see us already on the road. It seemed magic to me that the RV could get started in the morning without me even knowing about it.

    Glad your girls enjoyed the birds in NY. Who knows what wonderful thing they will remember after this year's spring break?

  5. We all remember one special vacation when we went for 3 weeks throughout the western USA in a tent. Well, till the third week when my mother declared she would not put that tent up and down anymore, we were going to a motel. I don't remember that. What I really remember, bear with me now, is the Christmas years later when the 4 of us decided my parents needed some cash instead of stuff. But just giving cash was cold – so we wrapped bills in memories: my sister built a miniature green canvas tent with a zipper door and $20 inside. We found an beat up train car miniature and put a candy bar with another $20 in there – my dad had told us how as kids they would throw a certain kind of candy into boxcars. Weird. And on and on, $200 worth of memories we rebuilt. We remember it as the best Christmas ever, especially as both our parents have passed.

  6. The best memory of my relationship is (so far at least) the day when we celebrated one year beeing together. It didn't involve a meal at a fancy restaurant or a shower of roses or a great gift but one of his favourite love songs. My boyfriend isn't a great singer nor does he like singing at all but he sang this song all on his own with a little help from youtube who did the background music 😉 I remember sitting there in disbelief with tears in my eyes because this was such a beautiful moment.

  7. I love this story. We could seldom go away on school holidays because of my husband's work, but I tried to find something unique to do during that time. Often, museums or the Y or the library or other community places have special programs during school breaks. Just one or two special outings can give us the feeling of breaking away from the old routine. And often it is the parental participation that makes it memorable.