2012-12-13 / Opinions

Thursday night’s Geminid meteor shower is perfect for special time with your kids

By KIP BURKE
news editor

This Thursday night we’re in for an evening of shooting stars, if the weather cooperates and if we’ll take the time to sit back and watch. I know how things get kind of hectic this time of year, but I like to take time to watch and be reminded how small we all are compared to the starry expanse above us.

I go way back with the annual Geminid meteor shower just before Christmas. My Dad would always make a fairly big deal out of it, with the whole family getting out the special yard blankets that we always used, and spread them out in the soft grass of the darkest part of our yard. In my earliest childhood memories, I distinctly remember the wonderful feeling of watching the Geminid meteor showers each December, bundled up in the backyard with my family. We’d be hunkered down wrapped in quilts and watching the icy winter sky hoping to see meteors streak across the heavens like God’s own frozen fireworks sent to earth just for our amazement.

I hope you and yours get to go out and watch a little. The return of the meteor showers always takes me back to some of the best times with my Dad. Long after my mother and sister would get cold and bored, Dad and I would stay bundled up outside and watch for big meteors to arc across the sky trailing fire from space, and we’d talk, talk the way men and boys rarely do.

Lying in the darkness staring into the infinity of space, we found we could talk about just about anything, and we did. There are some things men need to pass on to their sons, and sons to their fathers, and it was there under the stars that we were able to give voice to the deepest of our dreams and hopes, our fears and expectations.

I remember how important I felt when I was about nine, and my mother called for us to come in because it was late. Daddy gently refused. “We’re fine out here, honey. We’ve just got important things to talk about.”

Wow. That was a big deal, the fact that my Dad felt that talking with me was more important than bedtime. That stuck with me, the fact that to my Dad, the value of our relationship extended well beyond rules and routine.

So dads, I encourage you to go ahead and spend a little extra special time with your kids after dark this week, lying on a blanket in a dark field. I guarantee you’ll see a sky full of meteors, and I expect you’ll make memories that last for the rest of your life.

Even if it’s after bedtime.

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