Monday, December 07, 2009

Gone Fishing

My children call my father "Regular Grandpa" because they know they have another grandpa in there somewhere but the only one who has ever met him is Grace, and she was too young to remember the event. From what little I know of him he's a quiet, reserved yet friendly man, a former computer programmer and a good stepfather who loves country dancing with his wife.

If I ask Andrew about his memories of his father he'll inevitably talk about those few times in high school when his Dad would sneak into his bedroom before the alarm went off, shake his son gently and say, "Get up--we're going skiing!" Andrew would skip school, his dad would call in sick for work then they'd spend the day at Copper Mountain, Breckenridge or Keystone and the day would inevitably end with Andrew falling asleep on the drive home.

The mom in me shakes a finger and says, "How irresponsible! What kind of a parent would take their son from school for an empty day of bumming around on the slopes?" But then another side of me knows those times are the most important--years later Andrew will point to those days as highlights in his relationship with his father.

I've written before how family vacations are so important--how taking the time to smell those roses together is what brings you closer and adds depth to your relationships--and today Andrew and I are being our own brand of irresponsible parents. Each year we go out to cut our Christmas tree in the Alaskan wilderness (or at least 100 feet away from the highway as the law permits) and part of the tradition is taking the children out of school for the event.

We sleep in a bit, go to breakfast together (usually at the local IHOP or Village Inn) then spend the morning traveling along the peninsula in search of the perfect tree (or at least one that will fit on top of the car) and this year is no different. Today the kids get that thrill that can only be found through a flagrant flouting of school policy.

Yes I know it's probably very wrong but it's a tradition that we've grown to love. It's moments like these that I hope will help keep our children close to us and this year it feels even more important for some reason, the only change is that we won't be going out to breakfast so there will be no artery-clogging Country Fried Steak abominations consumed but they'll still be skipping school and listening to Christmas songs and dragging a tree over the snow.

I hope that the kids will remember us strapping trees to the roof rack with bungee cord then stopping every five minutes during the two-hour trip home to keep them from plunging off the back. I hope they remember how ugly the trees were, covered with tufts of moose hair and looking like they'd been through a dozen rounds of chemotherapy, but how pretty they looked once they were lit up and decorated.

But most of all I hope that they remember that we loved them enough to do things together as a family and that there's no one I'd rather spend a day playing hooky with.


Here are some past years with photos of our Alaskan tree hunting expeditions. Just in case you don't believe me.

An Alaskan Christmas Tree for Me
Christmas Trees Alaskan Style
Stalking the Mighty Alaskan Spruce

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Danielle a.k.a Yellie said...

I think it sounds awesome. I don't see the harm in having that one traditional day of playing hooky when you are teaching them responsibility and being in school all the rest of the year. I think it shows your kids a little flicker of your adventurous nature and is something that creates a great bond. It's definitely those out of the ordinary things that create lasting memories for your children that they will remember and share with their own children some day. Overall, I'd say you guys pretty much rock. ;-)

deedeeinfrance said...

Yes, those are the moments your children will remember and cherish.

Bee said...

I think it makes you sound like the best kind of parent in the world! And I love your Alaskan Christmas trees.

Chris said...

I don't think it's wrong. Once in awhile is okay and if schools are anything like here, they aren't doing much in school.

I read your movies in school post and although it isn't that bad, December seems to be a slacker month. My girl watched Santa Buddies last week in class!

So go and enjoy! It sounds like such fun and I bet they will remember it forever.

NGS said...

One of my favorite memories from high school was a day when I went to school, but broke out in a rash or something (allergic reaction?), and when I called home, my mom came to get me. My sister, in college at the time, didn't have classes that day, and she came with us. We went to the doctor, yes, but we also went to get ice cream, we to see a movie, and went to one of those machines that takes your picture and prints it on on those strips of four pictures.

It was fun. The best time ever.

I think it's awesome you do that for your kids.

Anonymous said...

After all that they look like Charlie Brown trees! As kids dad was sick and mom had 3 cedar bushes/trees down the street that were ours. Each year we topped one bush and that was our tree. Sometimes we tied more limbs to the tree that the tree had!
I have fond and great memories of those trees however. Your trees are beautiful and I wish you and yours good memories! J

Mimi said...

Yay! I remember when I was overly stressed out my mother would let me take a "mental health day" and stay home by myself and loaf around. i didn't take many of them...but i loved that she let me do that.

Godlonton Family Adventures said...

I think its a great daughter is young, only six and sometimes I feel guilty about pulling her out of school to go laces and then I think..."What's one day?" If I only had that one day, would I rather her be in school or with us at the beach or mountains or wherever. Little moments, little trips that what makes it worth it!

cndymkr / jean said...

Everyone needs an occasional break and taking one as a family is the best reason I can think of. I hope you get the best tree ever and I can't wait to see it decorated!

Trailer Wife said...

What a sweet tradition! Growing up in Oregon, I have many wonderful memories of cutting down the family tree. And now that I have a son, I might have to take a page from your book and start a christmas tree of my own!

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

What a great idea--I think that sounds like a wonderful day. And if I were a teacher I wouldn't mind one bit. :)

page2 said...

What a great tradition! I'm sure the kids will remember those expeditions forever. We need more traditions in our family. Something that took the kids out of school for a day would definitely be a big hit. I'm sure they wouldn't let us forget to do it again the next year.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Unless overdone, as is the case sometimes in our suburban district, playing hooky for a family outing is a great way for the family to bond and form a tradition. You don't seem like the sort of parents who would wontonly have their children abandoning their studies in favor of fun. This is a great post!

Daisy said...

Wrong? No. And you know I'm a teacher! These family events are important. I'm sure your kids are responsible enough to make up any schoolwork missed; they can never make up for lost traditions and memories.

The Houston Family said...

OH MY WORD! I love your Christmas trees! I grew up in Soldotna and seeing the pictures of all your trees brought back so many memories!!!

midwest mama said...

That's awesome, and it's definitely an experience that will stick with them longer than any school lesson!

Anonymous said...

Aww, why no IHOP this year? lol What a neat tradition. Your post got me all teary. :)

Anonymous said...

In the big scheme of things, those
precious moments you made memories
with your children will stay with
them forever.
My niece in Minneapolis lost her
seven yr. old only son to cancer
last Feb. She would give anything
to take him out of school to Christmas tree hunt. Happy Christmas
to your family..thank you for all
your blog wisdom.mary m from
vancouver, wa.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I couldn't agree more. I have distinct memories of the few times my parents let me skip school to go do something with them. I think this tradition ROCKS.

Nanette said...

What wonderful memories for your family! It was fun to look back at your trees. We have never cut our own tree down - looks like lots of fun! What did you have for breakfast?

Jolanthe said...

I don't see ANY harm in taking them out of school for a day.

Especially since there is most likely a movie being show at some point during that day {insert cheeky grin here}.

Fun!! And memories for a long time to come!!

bigguysmama said...

As a mom with older and younger kids, I can honestly say, "have at it now because you won't always be able to do it!" When my teen girls were in Middle School we went to Disney World a couple of times. It was easier to be gone for a week because their classes weren't that big of a deal to miss.

Getting into the upper grades with harder classes, it became impossible so we haven't been back in years. :( How can you take high schoolers out of college level classes for a week?

Last year I saw kids sledding on a school day and now I'm determined to give my boys a day of sledding. For me, I don't have to deal with all the kids & other families on a weekend and my boys get to do something "cool" and "out of the ordinary". What a memory maker!!

What's one day? Right? We'd take them out for a dentist appt. :)


Lori said...

I don't see hooky, I see mental health day. Everyone taking time to recharge and have fun is hopefully an unstressful, de-stressing time. And what a wonderful way to sum up your thoughts at the last bit--so sweet.

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

LOL I think every family has one of these days or at least I hope they do. Some of my fondest memories are that one day a year when grams kept me home from school and we went out to an early breakfast and then tackled THE Christmas gift list together. We generally did it all that same day while stopping for a fortifying lunch of course. We'd get home so late that gramps would then take his girls out for dinner too. Ahh the memories. Who knows what we bought or even where we went. All I remember is the quality time with them.

Terrye said...

I used to wake my kids up and tell them they had a snow day - no school and we'd go play all day in the snow. Next day at school they'd ask their friends what they did on their snow day and, well the teachers eventually caught on, but it was all good. And, yes, they still remember those days.