|Mystery Island, Vanuatu|
Some of these traditions are passed down from our own families or heritage, and we expect our kids to be excited to partake. “Ooooh, let’s feast on fruit soup for Christmas!” Bleh. Okay, okay, we’ll just call Dominoes.
And some of them we create in our own crazed minds, initially to insert some “fun” into family, but morph quickly into a chore. Remember your first child’s first birthday? Personalized and handmade party favors (for all the attending 1 year-olds who could read their own name, of course!), a Pinterest-inspired mermaid cake ordered for a small fortune from the boutique bakery in town, and a guest list longer than my Christmas card list. Yes, it was self-induced madness that lasted only that one year for only that one, blessed, obliviously spoiled child.
Tradition! Tradition! It’s one of those things in life that matters. A lot. The kids couldn’t sit still as we dinghied to shore on Mystery Island. Mark and I had concocted a terrifying tale of poison nuts, sequestered sailors, and crazed cannibals. We’d written out clues and entered the waypoints into the handheld GPS. (I know, we should be using a real compass and counting steps, but just roll with it.)
Mark set the stage with a brief summary of the scenario, and the kids set off with the GPS in search of the next clue. I giggled as I realized that we have limited hiding spots on these deserted islands. Inevitably, clues would be hidden in coconut shells or trees, clam shells, and under rocks or logs. The kids noticed this, too, as Elizabeth informed Mark that his clue for clamshell was much more creative last time. She even rattled it off, having done that hunt over a year ago!! It matters. They love it. They remember.
In the end, the main character of our terrifying tale was cooked for dinner in a cannibal pot, but before she met her dreadful fate, she left behind a stash of treasured goodies - American candy that my aunt and uncle had brought to us in New Zealand when they’d visited. It has been meticulously rationed by the kids ever since! Sour gummy worms, skittles, and Sour Patch Kids chewing gum along with a few Australian coins for good measure.
Parents, this is the stuff kids remember. Take the time. Have some fun. This is where true treasure is hidden.