Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer’s budget-friendly wish list leaves warm memories

We’re still plugging away on our Summer Manifesto, the list our family made at the beginning of the summer that detailed what we wanted to accomplish during these fleeting days. I’m amazed by how the list shaped our days and helped us make priorities. I’m even more in awe of how this simple list gave us such a sense of joy and anticipation.
When I poked the tiny zinnia seeds in the garden this year, for example, I had my daughter alongside me, already talking about how we would pick the vibrant blooms and put them in a vase on her dresser. I always like to watch the garden grow and change, but this year we eagerly awaited the seedlings and watched as the buds turned into waves of riotous color: magenta and blazing orange, fire-engine red and dusty pink.
Before “pick zinnias” made it onto our list, I hesitated to pluck them from the garden because I never wanted to leave a gap in my flower beds. But this year, we have zinnias everywhere, including my bedside table and my daughter’s dresser. Even my boys wanted to pick their own flowers to have in their room. One small packet of seeds, costing just a few dollars, has brought the best kind of satisfaction.
Though the boys caught the enthusiasm of garden zinnias, they were even more tickled with the idea of a family squirt gun fight. When we were writing the list, my oldest son’s initial request was for “a war, with water and guns,” which I recall him saying ever so slowly and methodically. To fulfill this request, we picked up five guns in a single package for $5 and took them on one of our camping trips. When we busted out the guns, there were squeals of delight all around.
The duel went on for over an hour, while we dipped our guns in the river, bobbed and weaved, ran and giggled. It got even more interesting when my husband’s father brought out a pump-action squirt gun with a crazy, powerful spray. In fact, after having seen our manifesto posted on the mudroom wall, my in-laws brought kites along, too, to help us fulfill another item on our list. Luckily, they came across high quality kites that a teacher friend no longer wanted. It was fun to see other people become so invested in our summer goals.
We still have to squeeze in making red popsicles and pitching a tent in the backyard, having an outdoor tea party and going on a picnic with balloons before the last days of summer get away from us. The children behind these requests haven’t forgotten a thing on the list.
However, even if it turns out that we miss something, we know we have been able to savor the best of the season. It has occurred to us that there are just as many ways that we’d like to celebrate fall, so we’ll be making a new list soon. I already have a few contributions in mind that I’ll be certain to include in our Fall Manifesto.
These include making a pumpkin pie from scratch with the small golden fruit in our garden, jumping in a pile of leaves, visiting an apple orchard, and celebrating the first snow of the season with candy bar hot chocolate and popcorn.
What this manifesto-making has reminded me is that we can find pleasure and contentment in the simplest of things. With a little brainstorming, a piece of poster board, and permanent marker, we’re bound to continue making little moments into lasting memories.

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