Friday, July 9, 2010

Family Traditions

I love traditions. I always have. As a kid, they made me feel safe and secure, because I knew what was coming and I could count on it. As an adult, I enjoy doing the same things year after year and watching how those traditions build layers of memories for my kids. They won’t remember every detail of what we did together, and the years will blend together in their minds, but they will remember the events because we did them every single year.

Going to the Calgary Stampede on the Sneak-a-Peek night is one of those traditions. We moved here in 2006 and last night was our fourth year to attend Sneak-a-Peek. It’s half price to get in at the gate, it starts at 5 pm and is over by midnight (William has generally packed it in by 9:30 but we could stay longer as he gets older) and offers everything that the regular Stampede has but with half of the crowds to contend with.

After our small town rodeo weekend in June, the Sneak-a-Peek is one of my favourite events of the summer. In a matter of four hours, you can drop $60 and not have any clue how it added up so fast. We tour the dream house with no line up, eat a disgustingly greasy dinner and wash it down with the rootbeer from the big barrel, stroll through the barns and exclaim over the baby animals, look at the military vehicles, put the kids on a few rides, watch Superdogs while drinking lemonade and eating popcorn, and finish off with Those Little Donuts while the sun is setting. Can you tell that food is an important part of my memory-making process?

Every single year its been hot, which adds to the summer experience. This year, we walked into the Corral as Superdogs was supposed to be starting, and instead it was an ice show with acrobats and a big band and strobe lights and skaters including Elvis Stojko and the Canadian ice dancers who won gold at this year's Olympics.

It was a refreshing change of pace and an entertaining show, but when William leaned over and said, "When are the dogs coming out?" we were sure he would melt down in disappointment when he discovered that the dogs were in a different building and we didn't know that a change had been made. But I was grateful again for the fact that he is 4, because he took the news well, and settled in to enjoy the big finish before going on his favourite rides in the little kid's midway.

I love making these family memories. They become part of the fabric of our lives together. The things we do now become their adult recollections of their childhood. I want them to have lots of memories to access and enjoy.

We had so much fun last night, and I'm glad my sister and my niece were able to join us. And I'm proud of myself for not stressing out about the fact that I had my camera but no battery due to a mishap along the way. In some ways I was even more present in the moment, knowing I didn't have my camera to record it, but that didn't change the memories that were made and those will last forever.

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