Jake Frost describes his family's end-of-school traditions, which include banana splits, a look back at the school year, and summer journals.
Oh, how I was counting down the days until I could put some distance between myself and “distance learning.” Our school did a wonderful job organizing and implementing distance learning, and the kids did a wonderful job attending to their schoolwork.
I was eager to move on.
We made a paper chain and I think I was more giddy each day when a link was ripped off than the kids were. When we finally reached the last link I actually whooped for joy as my youngest shredded it into confetti.
For the final drop-off of distance learning materials the school organized a car parade, which was really fun, and everyone was in the spirit. It was like an academic Mardi Gras. From the festive atmosphere pervading the proceedings I gleaned that perhaps I was not the only one eager to bid adieu to Zoom-school.
In our own family, we always celebrate the end of the school year with banana splits and “The Three Things” ritual, where we go around the table taking turns saying something we remember from the school year, 3 passes around for a total of 3 things each. I record “The Three Things” in our family journal to preserve them for future generations.
This year, as we enjoyed our heaps of caramel and chocolate laden ice-cream (and of course topped by the all-important cherry), I was certain the first recollection each child would want transcribed would be distance learning. But I was surprised as the rounds unfolded and none of the kids even hinted at internet-based educational experiences.
There were all sorts of other memories: some got a kick out of karate, some added up the mathematical advancements they’d made over the year, some drew on artistic endeavors for attainments to include in their Three Things. But no one seemed to consider the vicissitudes of distance learning worthy of the list!
I was aghast at this omission and finally interrupted the memory-merry-go-round.
“What about distance learning!?!” I asked (demanded).
Oh yeah, they all agreed, that too.
Well, I guess it didn’t make the impression on them that it did on me. But then, they weren’t corralling primary kids and trying to get them to do their spelling. Upon further reflection, I gave myself an extra cherry on top of my banana split.
Then the next day we honored another family tradition by celebrating The First Day of Summer with summer food and Summer Journals!
The grill came out for the first time and we had a good old Summer Feast: corn on the cob, hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, chicken, a real charcoal blow-out with something for everyone off the barbie.
When enough food had been consumed to render everyone immobile, into the afterglow of ketchup-and-mustard-induced gastronomical joy, I passed out the Summer Journals with the suggestion: you have 12 weeks of summer, 84 days, you can think about what you want to do with those days, any hopes or plans you have for the summer, and make that your first journal entry.
When I was a kid we always had summer journals and it’s a real treat to look over them now. It’s amazing the memories you thought you’d have forever but that somehow got lost along the way, forgotten until you peruse an old summer journal. The journal can suddenly bring you right back to that time and place so you can see and feel everything anew.
It’s also a good way to turn the mind to looking forward. On the last day of school we look back, remembering the good from the past 9 months (or if not exactly good, at least the highly memorable). Then on the first day of summer we look forward, recognizing that the days before us are open, waiting to be filled, like the blank pages of our Summer Journal, and become whatever we will make of them.
I hope everyone has a great summer and fills their blank pages with wonderful memories in the sunny summer days to come!
Copyright 2020 Jake Frost
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of six books: a Catholic fantasy novel, The Light of Caliburn; Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.