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Multigenerational Family Vacations; Creating New Memories

Multigenerational Family Vacations; Creating New Memories

By Richard Weijo

My wife and I recently visited Germany with our daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law. 

We were worried about how well our granddaughter would travel.  The airplane flight was over 10 hours long.

How would a four-year-old do on such a long flight? 

As it turned out, Elsie did just fine.  She had flown before so the experience wasn’t completely new to her. Fortunately, she was also able to get some sleep on the plane which made dealing with jet lag once we arrived a little easier.

But I wondered, how much will she remember from our trip to both Munich and Berlin?

As it turned out, during our trip there were many cultural experiences Elsie won’t ever forget.

Elsie heard and practiced speaking German with her daddy (she was better than me!). And she really loved the spaetzle dumplings, Bavarian pretzels, and apple strudel.  She will also never forget the Hansel & Gretel dress she was given in Munich.  It’s her favorite dress to wear at home now that we’re back from vacation.

While there is scenery she might remember, there are parts of her experience she simply didn’t understand. 

The remaining pieces of the Berlin wall may be very memorable for adults but was just too cognitively complex for a four-year-old to understand or appreciate.

One way to protect memories is to document them for the future.

It is so easy these days to create a photo book or to create videos that can be shared with children when they are older. These documented memories will help to trigger the special moments they recall from the vacation.

I have many relatives who still live in the country of my ethnic heritage, whom I have never visited. They are an important and rich source of history and traditions long forgotten by the generations that followed those who migrated more than a hundred years ago to the United States.

My wife has often commented that we both should visit our ancestral countries and I would really like my family to be along with us when we go.

However we have decided that we will wait until Elsie is at least ten or twelve years old so she can speak to and learn from the deep heritage of her past.

I’m sure at that time, her interest to learn and understand more about her past ancestry coupled with her already growing curiosity in different cultures will make this yet another trip that will be forever remembered and shared.

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Richard O. Weijo, PhD, received an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and went on to receive his MBA and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota. He was an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Richard was also a Senior Analyst at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and his most recent corporate position was as a Manager of market research and Director of customer channels at Portland General Electric. Currently, he is a consultant and a writer. He adores his young granddaughter Elsie, whose birth inspired his book, Our Dreams For Our Children: Creating Legacies That Inspire Each New Generation To Achieve A Brighter Future.