I had a charmed childhood and family life. I didn't always know or appreciate it at the time, but I did. As I read through Mom's journals I am reminded of that fact.
I don't ever remember my parents having a fight; an occasional disagreement perhaps, but I never heard them raise their voices to one another in the 21 years I was with them before Dad passed away. That's pretty amazing to me.
We went on a vacation every year that I remember - the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Yellowstone National Park, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Lava Hot Springs, Craters of the Moon, Bryce Canyon, Ricks College, and one whirlwind journey to Seattle, Vancouver, and other parts of Canada were among some of the places we saw together. Mom, Dad, and I also went to New York together, and after Dad's death Mom and I toured Belgium, France, England, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands together.
We also did a lot of family outings when I was growing up - Lagoon Amusement Park, the Heber Creeper, the Alpine Slide in Park City, Hogle Zoo, Temple Square, Hansen Planetarium, the Museum of Natural History, various parks and monuments spread throughout the Salt Lake Valley, drives and picnics in the canyons that surround the valley, going out to eat or out for dessert at McDonald's, Su Casa, Baskin-Robbins, the Cultured Cow, Chuck-a-Rama, Arctic Circle, Sunday outings to my grandma's house, Christmas Eves at my great aunt's house, Thanksgivings with friends and neighbors, movies and plays galore. I have such fond memories of those times.
Rarely would a trip happen where we didn't have car trouble. I'm sure it frustrated the hell out my dad, but it just seemed like a trip wasn't a trip without pulling over for some car issue.
We were (and still are) a game-playing family. Dad, Mom, and my two older siblings would play a card game called 500; Mom and my older brother played cribbage a lot; we played Trivial Pursuit, the Ungame, Pictionary, Scattergories, Taboo, Skip-bo, Uno, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Life, Sorry, the Mad Magazine game, Hearts, Catchphrase, and so many others.
We had truly magical Christmases, even in leaner times. I sometimes don't know how Mom and Dad afforded to give us so many great gifts or take us on these incredible trips and outings.
Dad would come home from the store with a candy bar for each of us kids as a special surprise. Mom might bring us some candy from the ice cream store she worked for at the time, Snelgrove's.
I remember dyeing eggs and having Sunday morning egg hunts at Easter and the candy baskets that would be prepared for us.
Birthdays were almost always great affairs. Treasure hunts, videos of Disney movies, lots of friends, and Mom would often make a special cake for us. I remember getting one shaped like a train and another like a castle. Or we'd go to Farrel's for ice cream.
We had a huge backyard where we played croquet, tried to plant a garden, jumped on the trampoline, swung on swings, and did yard work together.
Mom and Dad would film us with the Super 8 camera they had or take pictures of us, and I have now inherited a plethora of family memories captured on film
We were a church-going family. All of my parents' children served missions and served in many callings. We held Family Home Evening on Monday nights when I was growing up filled with lessons and family discussions and activities. I remember fondly one where we made chocolate chip cookies together.
We had meals together growing up. Mom wasn't a great cook, but she made us meals with a lot of love and we ate together and discussed the goings on in our lives.
We prayed together, and Dad would give everyone in the family a blessing every year before we started school. Mom served as a Primary teacher and Relief Society teacher among many others and Dad was the ward clerk for what seemed like forever.
My siblings and I got along. Sure, there were times when we got on each other's nerves, but overall we were a very happy family growing up. It wasn't until I met friends whose family lives were less than ideal that I realized not every family was like mine.
Home was a place I really enjoyed, especially since I was bullied a lot in school. Home was a place of refuge, love, safety, and comfort. I remember coming home from school and having great discussions with Mom and later when we worked together we'd have really great after-work discussions.
Of course, eventually everyone got married or went to school or moved or went on missions or (in Dad and Mom's cases) died, and so that affected the family togetherness I remember so fondly as a child. I miss that closeness and constant camaraderie. Sure, we still get together and do stuff, but it's not the same. I don't suppose it ever will be. But I loved it when it was ours and I miss it a lot.
It wasn't perfect, but it was great.