One of my earliest and clearest memories is of my mom taking us on picnics. Our favorite picnic location was at the Secrest Arboretum, on the campus of OARDC.
I can still see the blanket she would pull out. I can still picture the apple trees that grew in the orchard where we would sit. I remember how quiet and still yet vast it all felt.
Since having kids of my own, returning to the arboretum for summer and fall picnics has been an tradition that I hold near and dear to my heart. Sometimes we pack a lunch. Sometimes, if we are all together as a family, we will order chinese or a pizza to go and enjoy our cheesy slices – eaten straight from the box. But always, always, we enjoy our little tradition of sun and sky and soft Mexican blankets and good food that somehow tastes even better enjoyed outside, in the company of people we love.
This week, the kids and I had another picnic. But this time, my sister in law and her baby boy – her first – joined us. It was the first time we had done something with all the kids without our husbands. It was the first time the kids got to go on an adventure with their new cousin. She is a first time mom. I’m a first time aunt. The kids are first time cousins.
So many firsts.
One time, I heard this piece on the radio about how people tend to experience depression after they’ve crossed all their big “firsts” off their life-list. Graduate college, first job, first house, first love, first marriage, first kid, first big vacation….then….sadness that they seem to have run out of firsts.
I felt incredibly sad that people would view the world so reductively. So, myopically.
Every day is full to the brim of firsts. The day itself is a first, and everything flows from that newness – if only we open our eyes to see it.
Life will not stop delivering firsts – straight to our door, just like our takeout pizza or Amazon Prime order. We can choose to ignore them. Deem them somehow less worthy than the big, flashy firsts that we logged in our past. Or we can pause, and recognize that these new, little firsts – though seemingly little drops in our day – are actually the lovely rings that reverberate through the waters of our lives until one day, we look back and realize they were bigger than we thought.
There is so much goodness and love and mercy in our lives. There are still so many wonderful firsts to experience. Sometimes those firsts are big and obvious. But more often than not, they are sweet and simple. Like a blanket, spread with food and sippy cups and soft little baby legs. Full of cracker crumbs and shoes kicked off willy nilly. And all of it – all of the firsts – are there for the enjoying. A feast of firsts. A feast of love.
These almond butter chocolate chip oatmeal bars (vegan and gluten fee) were a hit with everyone.