They say the best things in life are free. It takes some much longer to come to that realization than others, but most of us eventually come to a reckoning that reinforces the old saying.
It’s not difficult to appreciate the value of good health, good friends and a family that loves you, but it’s easy to forget the little things in life that make it special, meaningful and worth savoring.
My children are in Florida visiting my sister and her family that includes aunts, uncles and cousins. Their visit is not unlike millions taking place in America as the country enjoys simple pleasures that only summer can provide.
Across the country, cousins gather with cousins to invade amusement parks, overflow local pools and consume an unknown number of snow cones, and make memories that remain long after the beach has closed.
My sister, her husband and son and daughter team up to make sure their visits are always filled with adventures and experiences they would not experience at home.
One called mid-week to relay an adventure that I would not have quite frankly associated with her.
“Hey, Dad, I got to hold a baby alligator,” my daughter excitedly said.
And that’s the magic that summer vacations can provide, a unique chance to experience something out of your comfort zone, and there’s always that one uncle that will let you ride the zip line.
My nephew has updated me all week with photos of the kids having fun. The pictures of all of the kids together tell a story of a week of fun and adventure.
But even more important than the series of adventures and new and interesting venues they visited was the happiness that being with family and a week with cousins can provide.
For many of us who have travelled to some remote locations in a lifetime of journeys, the memories of those summers with friends and family are often the ones that stand out in our minds.
As I stared at the latest batch of photos, I had a revitalization of the true joy and comfort that a smile on your child’s face can provide. Seeing all of those smiling faces gave me a renewed appreciation for the things in life that bring us happiness and cannot be purchased.
The memories made in this short week will hopefully give these kids images that will pop up for the rest of their lives when they think of summer, and perhaps admire a smile on the face of their child.
It also proves that some things in life remain constant, and spending summers with cousins is a tradition that has stood the test of time when it comes to enduring memories, at least in this household.
I probably won’t remember the many places they visited during that busy week, or the numerous new things they saw or experienced. But, I surely won’t forget those smiles or the joy that is uniquely felt when visiting family and making summer memories.