When I was a kid, summer break meant a world of adventure. And quite literally, it was half a world away from where I spent the other nine months of the year.

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya meant that the summer was the only time of the year to see all of our cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, so we made the most of it.

Aside from looking forward to the wonders of Walmart, fast food, Vanilla Coke, and way-too-early Christmas shopping, there was one thing during the summer that topped them all: The Annual Veatch Family Beach Trip, or Veatch Beach Week, as we liked to call it.

IMG_4024The tradition would bring our family together with our cousins, aunt and uncle and grandparents from my Dad’s side for a week on the Florida coast. Once the beach was in view, I would press my nose against the car’s window, looking out, as we passed the rows of beach bungalows. With an impatient excitement, I waited to see which rental house we would be staying at that year.

Without a doubt, the first thing I always did was run to the beach, straight into the water. It welcomed me, as if to say “Come in! This is going to be fun!”. In between the sunburns and wave riding, the week consisted of sand castles, movies, queso, board games, Tostitos, and laughter.

Lots and lots of laughter.

We celebrated the little things. From learning to float on our back like Grandpa, to catching our first big wave on the inner-tube, each of them feeling like a party. We made each event special. After all, this was such a special time: the culmination of the summer, the reunion of family, and the celebration of what had past and what was to come.

It was the best week of the year. As I look back on it now, it’s something I cherish and hope to replicate with my family one day. To me, the week represents much more than a vacation to get away; it represents a celebration of life, an intentional time to enjoy others, and a needed period to rest and slow-down.

The small things that we often choose to ignore can mean a whole lot more if we let them.

Often times, we spend so much time focusing on the next thing, that when we’ve gotten there, we immediately start to plan what’s after that. We don’t need to be told anymore how much is going wrong in the world, we need to be able to celebrate the small things.

Hope and joy can be found in the simplest of things, but worry and exhaustion can make them incredibly hard to find.

IMG_4022So, take a moment today to celebrate the most mundane thing. Maybe you saved $5 at the grocery store or maybe you jammed to your favorite song in the car. We were meant to celebrate not only the big wins, but the small victories as well.

Veatch Beach Week looks a lot different now. As I’ve gotten older, along with the rest of the family, summer has taken on a different meaning for each of us. With cousins and family off to college, marriages, new jobs and new homes, the heyday of Veatch Beach Week is behind us. However, the memory of ten year-old me running into the water reminds me: celebrate often, it’s the small things that mean the most.