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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