Everything from magazine ads, to movies and books often prey on our sense of nostalgia. Perhaps it’s an offshoot of the adage “the grass is always greener elsewhere”, but many of us, myself included, remember our childhoods fondly as a better time.
So, as the school year winds down and the family vacation plans are finalized, I wanted my kids to have some lasting memories like I now enjoy. I now remember fondly, the family vacation, that at the time seemed like nobody actually wanted to participate in. My parents seemed more stressed than relaxed and the schedule we were tasked with keeping, seemed anything but a less frantic pace than our normal routines commanded. Time softens the edges and the sibling fights tend to be forgotten and what remains to me now, reflects in my mind as a simpler time. I don’t recall many trips to an amusement park and I know we never did a Caribbean beach vacation…as to my mom, those would be wasted opportunities. We camped, we rented cottages and no matter where we were, we were educated. My mom never missed an opportunity for us to learn something on our vacation, and one of her favourite methods were visits to museums on our travels. Not that she had any issues with the world’s largest ball of string on the Route 66 roadside attraction tour, but rather she saw an inherent need to continue our schooling while other kids in our neighborhood were left to their own devices.
Admittedly, at the time I resented being brought to cultural institutions while my friends rode their bikes. To me, museums were for school field trips, not for July. So, each time my brother and sisters and I would complain, but each time when we got there, the protests subsided. Whether it was a science museum, a natural history museum, the ROM or the Smithsonian…even if you tried to not want to be there grudgingly, something caught our interest and our mom knew she had won. There is nothing quite like seeing a massive dinosaur reconstructed.
Today, I travel for work and I have had the opportunity to see many countries and visit some of the greatest cities in the world. It once donned on me that with all that these city’s had to offer, I was amused to find myself gravitating to museums. I prefer the history museums to the art museums but I have visited many of both. The Met and the Louvre were must sees, but the Field museum in Chicago and the Imperial War museum in London stand out to me now. My current job has me somewhat connected to the museum industry, as Ketchum Manufacturing sells admission products and provides visitor admission supplies to museums and cultural institutions around the world. When I told my mom what I would be doing, she brought out a shoe box. In it were tags, plastic and metal tabs, from museums we had visited. We had worn them as we toured the exhibits and I had long forgotten all about them. But to my mom they were the reminders…the souvenirs from a past she had cherished as much as I had.
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