One of my favorite moments in the Pixar movie Up is when little Russell is thinking back to a particular tradition he had with his father after his parents divorced. It’s a heart-felt, heart-breaking, sincere moment between the two of them, after Mr. Fredricksen asks whether his dad had ever taken him camping. He hadn’t, but this small tradition, this simple habit, the little amount of time they spent together meant the world to this little boy.

My dad made it sound so easy. He’s really good at camping, and how to make fire from rocks and stuff. He used to come to all my Sweatlodge meetings. (Russell smiles at the thought.) And afterwards we’d go get ice cream at Fentons. I always get chocolate and he gets butter-brickle. Then we’d sit on this one curb, right outside, and I’ll count allthe blue cars and he counts all the red ones, and whoever gets the most, wins. I like that curb.
 

I was reminded of this scene today when I was with my friend’s young son. We left the beach after spending time with his grandfather with which he used to have a monthly tradition: they would go to the beach and afterwards stop by Burger King for milkshakes and playing in the indoor playground. When we said goodbye to the grandfather and parted ways at the beach, the little one was ready to head to Burger King as usual, and was quite sad when we bypassed it.

Are there any little traditions that say “childhood” to you? One particular person with whom your interactions were always the same; a pattern that was particularly comforting? Today, take 8 minutes to write about a special habit or ritual that stands strong in your memory. You’ll find that even something small like counting cars from a curb in front of an ice cream shop can often take the form of something much more significant and impactful if it’s with someone you didn’t have very much time with.

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