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When my daughter, Harvie, was just a baby, my husband and I decided that when she turned 6 we would start taking trips for her birthday instead of giving her a bunch of stuff.  We are fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy her things during the year, and we are blessed with an amazing village that always showers her with gifts around her birthday and Christmas.  My husband and I both want her to have experiences and travel brings a unique point of view on the world.  I did not grow up in a family with extra money for vacations and trips.  I can count on one hand the actual vacations we had when I was a child.  Jennings comes from an upbringing that afforded him the privilege of travel and vacations, so he knows the worth of such opportunities.  In my head, I have started compiling a list for us to work from.  I have already made it known that her first birthday trip will be to Disney World. Daddy isn’t as excited as Mommy is for this to be on the trip list, but I think it’s a special place that all little kids deserve to visit.   

Here’s my list:

  1. Disney
  2. The Grand Canyon
  3. New York City
  4. Jackson Hole, WY
  5. San Diego, CA
  6. Austin, TX
  7. Key West, FL
  8. Denver, CO
  9. New Orleans, LA
  10. France
  11. England
  12. Italy
  13. Australia
  14. Scotland
  15. Wales
  16. Ireland
  17. Portugal
  18. Spain
  19. Iceland
  20. Norway
  21. Niagara Falls, both sides
  22. My gramma’s hometown in Indiana
  23. Gettysburg/Hershey (because it was a trip my gramma, her namesake, always loved to visit)
  24. Nashville, TN
  25. Yellowstone
  26. Most National Parks

I know the list is long, and some trips can be combined.  Luckily, I am a teacher who has free time in the summer and her dad works from home.  I would love to drive and camp across country with her one summer, visiting some of these places and friends along the way.  We have a little over 3 years until the first trip.  I better get those spreadsheets started.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for places to visit! Drop them in the comments!

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Since I was a small girl, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday.  When I was little, Gramma would pull up a chair for me to stand in and let me help her cook. I learned to make a lot of dishes that way, but Thanksgiving was special. After helping her “prepare” dinner, we would make place mates or name cards for the family coming to eat.   Soon, my aunt and uncle would show up with my cousins and we’d be ushered to the yard to play until dinner time if it wasn’t too cold.  If it was too cold, we would go play in our bedroom.  My sister and cousins and I would create all sorts of games and scenarios to keep us busy. Sometimes, we’d talk my uncle in to playing with us because he would rough house and toss us around.  My mom may or may not show up, but when I was little, most of the time she found her way home for holiday meals.

I always liked it when my gramma and her daughters (my mom and aunt) were together because they’d start telling stories about people they used to know and old memories.  It was one of the few times I would be still and quiet so they wouldn’t notice me, and I could eavesdrop on them.  We would eat so much that I always joked about wearing sweatpants on that day.  That night, sometimes Kelli’s friend would come over and we’d eat leftovers and goof off. Friday, we ALWAYS ate turkey clubs and chips, made the RIGHT way, according to her, with 3 slices of toast.

Gramma died right before the holidays and it was heart-wrenching for me.  She loved the holidays as much as I did. She loved cooking for everyone and having all of us at the house. The year before she died, she became obsessed with Thanksgiving dinner, the actual meal.  We had several turkeys in the freezer, and periodically throughout that year, she would want to cook a Thanksgiving feast, with all the fixings and trimmings, invite family over and be together.  It was exhausting, but she knew her time left with us was limited, and she wanted to make the most of it.  So I obliged her.  I got up at the crack of dawn (because Thanksgiving meals were ALWAYS at 1:00 p.m., as well as most holiday or Sunday dinners), get the turkey prepped and in the oven for her.  I only started with the really intensive help after she broke several glass pie plates and baking dishes getting a baking dish out for a casserole.  She would do the lighter stuff: peel potatoes, mash them after they were cooked, prepare the sweet potato casserole, etc. I handled the stuffing, the turkey, most of the other veggies, the bread and the actual being in the kitchen.  We got her an extra-long oxygen tube so she could get to the kitchen and still be able to breathe, but it was still exhausting for her.

I grumbled about it to friends and some family, but never to her.  I knew it was important to her.  Now, 7 years later, I am thankful that she and I had that time together and that I was able to make her happy.   Now, I am married and my husband and I got married a week after Thanksgiving.  We are starting our own family traditions and ways of doing things. I hope one day, if we’re blessed enough to have any children, that I can make holidays fun and memorable for them.  We are starting this year by taking our first holiday trip, a tradition I hope to continue one day.

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