Families telling their stories

Picture of David Ahern

David Ahern

David is the editor of The Majellan

November is Family Stories Month, and we believe families should set aside the month to share stories amongst themselves. Storytelling is a fun way to learn more about the different generations before it’s too late.

To kick off the ‘story-telling’ month which is popular overseas, here’s an article about one Melbourne family whose traditional summer holiday has often included a long drive to their beach location.

For many families the summer ritual means replacing the hustle and bustle of the city with the serenity of the seaside. For the young and not so young, the allure of sun, sand and water is a compelling combination. Building sand castles in the shallows, yelling “howzat” during a game of beach cricket or body surfing white-capped waves all provide much fun and enjoyment.

And as dusk approaches and the evening cools, the beach is the perfect setting for family and friends and a communal meal of fish and chips, washed down with a refreshing ale. Once the food appears seagulls circle overhead and noisily scrap amongst themselves for leftovers.

The occasion also lends itself to reminiscing and a few laughs: the simple catch that was missed during the cricket game or the mountainous wave that dumped a favourite uncle, leaving him a tangle of arms and legs and floundering in the surf! 

It is a time of year when notions of work, school and study can be locked away in a ‘mental’ box and the key thrown away. Irrespective of the destination, summer holidays and quality family time go hand-in-hand. 

David and Cathy and their children, Tim and Alysha, have enjoyed numerous family vacations over the years, and many have involved driving to their beach destination. This is their story.

“There’s more interaction and more meaningful conversations when you’re in a car and travelling long distances, more so than a plane,” says David.

  “You can play games like ‘I Spy’, board games and card … and just enjoy talking to each other about our travel experiences. The children didn’t have iPad and iPhone in those days, life was simpler.

“When the children were young, we would plan trips in January and go to places like Queensland or the Mornington Peninsula (in Victoria), but we’ve also had holidays to Hawaii and Asia. We tend to gravitate towards the beach,” David adds.

“During four years living in Brisbane when the children started primary school, we enjoyed driving to more adventurous destinations, such as Longreach, Cairns and Fraser Island,” Cathy adds. “Nowadays, we still share happy memories of those family holidays.

“We would find activities that we could all do like swimming, tennis, cycling and snorkelling but it was also important for the kids to do their own thing and for David and me to do things that we wanted to do, like walking. We would walk every morning and going to church on Sunday as a family would also feature, irrespective of where we were.

“We’re finding as the children get older (now 20s) that it’s more of a challenge to go away together because they have friends … they want to do their own thing and that’s fair enough,” Cathy says.

She believes holidays are also a time to leave work behind and be disciplined. “We’ve loved our family holidays … they’ve truly been very relaxing, especially when David and I have had hectic corporate work lives,” Cathy says. “It’s really been down time … and we’ve built disciplines into our family holidays, like minimising (the use of) emails and phones.

“It’s consciously telling yourself this is your time (family time) and you can set aside 10 or 15 minutes in the day to check if there are urgent emails and respond if you need to but a holiday is a holiday, or at least it should be. It comes back to your own self-discipline and other people respecting you.

“We have enjoyed diverse family holiday experiences during the past 20 years,” says Cathy “and look forward to sharing special family holidays in the future, as the children establish their own families,” says Cathy.

For details and ideas about November Family Stories Month go to: nationaldaycalendar.com/family-stories-month-november/

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