This is what I hope you learned on our latest family vacation (the one where you had 10 days of no school):
1) You live a very privileged life. You father and I are not made of money. We are supporting 5 children on one income. That is not an easy thing these days. The fact that you were able to fly in an airplane and partake in the sounds and smells and sights of a new place is a precious opportunity. How much or how little your friends fly is beside the point. You are so privileged to live in an age of commercial jets and so fortunate to board one so young in life.
2) I brought you to a lovely wedding so you would get an idea of how important courtship and marriage are to me. My marriage is my most valuable asset. Be very careful who you give your heart to. Ann Marie chose this man very carefully and waited a long time for the kind of person who would align with her values. You have no idea how much of an impact this one choice will make on the rest of your life. Do not look for someone who is perfect. You will never find them, and besides, you and your future spouse will grow together as you age. But be very careful. Get a good feel for your partner’s values, work ethic, faith, and habits before you commit.
3) Get an Education. I took you to Brigham Young University to see your uncle Michael’s name on the door of his university office. Michael has been working towards his goal of being a professor for over a decade. He’s had to make so many sacrifices to get there. Living with his in-laws for 5 years, raising 2 small children on a student budget, being so far from home for so long. He is now reaping the rewards of his focus and determination. Whatever your chosen field, get educated. It’s worth the sacrifice. (oh and make your siblings birthday brunch whenever you can…it makes for good memories).
4) You have no idea the logistical nightmare it is for a mother to drive with 5 kids 3200 kms, or walk the Vegas strip with those same children at midnight. The fact that we pulled that off successfully, without losing anyone and with a smile still on our faces speaks to how we can work as a team, look out for one another, be street smart and follow instructions. These principles will make all aspects of our family life smoother. Well done.
5) Nature. This earth is a beautiful place. When I walk in nature and really take in the majesty of the world’s natural wonders, I feel better about myself. Nature has a very balanced rhythm. The rising and setting of the sun, the changing of the seasons, the sound and smell of a campfire. These things steady me in an ever-frantic world. Take the time to be in nature and don’t ever underestimate its healing powers.
6) Culture. We go out of our way to try to expose you to new cultures, new people and new ways of thinking, from Mormon Tabernacle Choir concerts to casino crazy Las Vegas, a small college town to a buzzing metropolis, quiet red rock canyons and crowded airports. I want you to think hard about the kind of person you want to become. Yes, I have high standards for you, but I want you eventually be able to think critically about those standards and choose for yourself how to govern your life. Who you want to be and why are two questions I hope you can answer for me in the not too distant future.
7) Have fun (no, I didn’t overlook how fun vacations are). I want you to learn to work hard. Life is not just about being entertained. I push you to get good marks, to excel at piano, to shovel snow, to care for your siblings because I believe if you know how to work, you will find success. But I also want you to wisely choose recreational activities and make time to relax to keep yourself healthy. Look after your mental health by knowing when it’s time to put your nose to the grind and get something done, and when it’s time to quit for the day. Also, fun times can become some of your happiest memories. I don’t think any of you will soon forget the shark tank waterside:
8) I love to watch you grow. Seeing the world through your eyes has been the most delightful of learning opportunities for me. To see how different you all are. To see what makes each of you tick. To enjoy your humour. To be the recipient of your kindness. I take you on vacations so that you learn that my relationship with you is my treasure.