The Sandwichless Picnic

“A cheerful disposition is good for your health;     gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” Proverbs 17:22 (The Message)


In the recent post, Kids Always Need Us, I told about how each family will look different and that what truly matters is that as parents we are there for our kids.  One way to be there for our kids is to intentionally make fun memories.

This can be as simple as free activities in the community, fun activities at home or more elaborate family traditions with traveling or… wherever or whatever you choose, as a family.

One such memory making adventure that our family attempted recently stands out for me.  Normally we like to surprise our kids so we don’t tell them what we have planned.  We just tell them to get in the car and off we go on a fun adventure.  However, this particular Saturday we chose instead to involve them in the planning and execution.


We decided we had a few hours and it was the first really nice day of the season, so we wanted to have a picnic lunch and then go walk around the zoo for a little bit.  We are blessed each year on our anniversary with an annual zoo pass, so that is a nice “go to” getaway that is relatively inexpensive and something we all enjoy.

Our middle child was more than willing to help me make the picnic lunch, so while I set about making the sandwiches, she filled the picnic basket with the other goodies.  I showed her how to pack the sandwiches in ice and a cooler before adding them to the basket, and suggested we put them in the refrigerator until it was time to leave.

About 30 minutes later we were on our way and had to make one stop first that should have taken about 20 minutes total.  Ninety minutes later, much hungrier than before, we finally were able to head to the zoo.  The first sign that things might not turn out the way we hoped was that the entire parking lot was filled – from the front parking spaces all the way to the back, while we continued to watch more and more and more cars file in.  We went up to the picnic area and decided to eat first, then hope the lines died down some so we could at least get into the zoo.

We found a spot, everyone helped get the blanket spread out and as my husband started passing out the food, he realized our picnic consisted of chips and cookies.  To my horror, the sandwiches were still tucked neatly in the cooler with ice… in the refrigerator! However, this particular day, no one got mad.  We happily ate chips and cookies while enjoying our drinks, still trying to decide if we would stand in the long line or wait and visit the zoo another day.

It turns out the zoo’s line was too long, so we instead choose to drive ten minutes to a favorite ice cream shop.  We sat outside in the sun enjoying ice cream cones before heading home to get some work done.

Because of our adventure and memory-making earlier in the day, my daughter and I had a great time cleaning for a few hours later that afternoon.  Okay… neither of us enjoyed the cleaning, but we did enjoy the companionship and easy talking that occurred because of spending fun time together earlier.  The boys worked outside, us girls worked inside and later we enjoyed pretzels and drinks for dinner when we had to go run a few more errands, picking up things we needed to finish the yardwork.

We have gone on many picnics with our kids since they were born and this is by far one of my favorites.  It will always be remembered as the day mom packed the sandwiches… safely in the fridge.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016


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