Ornaments let parents hang on to memories Reminders: Holiday decor can provide road map of trips that grows with the kids.

Taking the Kids

December 28, 1997|By Eileen Ogintz | Eileen Ogintz,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

With every holiday ornament, another memory came rushing back -- the funny, silly and even disastrous family times we've shared on the road.

That's because wherever we take the kids, I try to buy each child an ornament to remember the trip, marking it with their name and the year. Sometimes, they pick their own.

A few weeks ago, for example, Reggie spent more than an hour in a Colonial Williamsburg shop agonizing between an 18th-century woman and a Revolutionary-era house before XTC making her all-important choice. (She chose the house.)

Other times, I buy the ornaments and squirrel them away, bringing out the Pilgrim and canoe, moose and cowboy ornaments when we're decorating the tree. Unfortunately, I forget so often where I've put them for safekeeping that it's become a standing family joke.

I think the memories get even sweeter after a few years. As the kids grow older, the vacation experience, even at the same place, won't be the same -- just as much fun, but different.

I'm not talking about picture-perfect vacation moments in front of the beach house, the Grand Canyon or the Capitol. It's impossible to get my crew to pose for those anyway.

I'm talking about real-life vacations with kids: the time Melanie was petrified meeting the Disney characters and burst into tears when one came near (our Peter Pan ornament). The time Reggie, not yet 3, fell asleep on the chair lift and wouldn't wake up, and her dad skied down with the pooped toddler in his arms (Jackson Hole, Wyo., the cowboy). The London trip five years ago during which 8-year-old Matt preferred chasing pigeons in Hyde Park to any historic site (the embroidered Beefeater guard).

Every time I look at the tiny Washington state ferry, bought on a book research trip Reggie and I took to Seattle, I think of how different travel with one child is from trips with two or three. It is because these times were all so special -- and so fleeting -- that I want to hold on to them so much.

Pub Date: 12/28/97

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