I don't know when the tradition began. But, after I moved away for college, Mom and I started having Mother-Daughter Weekends. We usually have two per year: one on the three-day weekend for Martin Luther King Day or President's Day in January or February when Mom will travel to wherever I live at the time. Our weekend is usually packed with craft and redecorating shows, house projects, "chick flicks", cookie baking, recipe sharing, and general "girl talk". It's always a relaxing, restful time - even though we have the tendency to stay up into the wee hours of the morning watching old episodes of "Trading Spaces."
Then, there's the Mother-Daughter Weekend in the fall when I trek home so that Mom and I can go on the Spoon River Drive. For those not familiar with the event, it is a long string of towns, centered mostly in Fulton County, IL, filled with yard sales, flea markets, antiques, craft tables, delicious food, historical sites, and music. All of this occurs near the beautiful banks of (you guessed it!) the Spoon River, in proximity of rolling hills, corn fields being harvested, and gorgeous leaves turning for autumn. Mom and I have our usual route we take, and we love the familiarity of it. It seems our purchases and "just looking" are especially focused on the yard sale, antique, and flea market tables, but we love all of it. In recent years, much of our time has been spent in Smithfield, IL - one of the 15 main stops on the drive. We usually see Mom's old bowling friend who sells bittersweet and Sweet Annie - along with linens and dishes. Of course, we stop by to hear Dad play the piano for a little while during the annual chicken and noodles dinner at the Red Brick Schoolhouse. But, we can't stay long, because there are too many booths and towns to visit and too much food to eat. The food....the thought of it brings up memories of those thinly sliced homemade onion rings, the kettle corn, the butterfly porkchops, the baked apples, the homemade ice cream, the cider, the elephant ears, the jams and jellies.... Too many delicious treats to mention! But, tomorrow, I hope to be enjoying a lot of it because tonight I am heading home to Canton so that Mom and I can have an early start tomorrow. I love the Spoon River Drive (first and second full weekends of October each year.)
For the last few years, I have brought some friends home with me to experience the Spoon River Drive for the first time. And, I hope to introduce more friends to it in the future. But, this year, it was important that I spend the day with Mom and only Mom so that we could get back to our Mother-Daughter weekends. It seems like it will be a cold one, so we'll bundle up. But, Mom and I know it is on these types of weekends that we get the best deals, and we're sure to have a ton of fun together.
Many ask, thinking they already know the answer, "Well, do you have Father-Daughter Weekends too?" The answer surprises most. YES! For a few years, Dad has come to visit me for a weekend in the summer, and during that weekend, we'll often spend time on the interests that we have in common. We've either enjoyed (or plan to enjoy in future years) going jazz and blues clubs, watching movies, attending concerts, talking about current events or TV shows, visiting museums, going to the bookstores, and touring old parts of St. Louis. We were not able to have a Father-Daughter Weekend this year because Dad was recovering from his knee surgeries, but I hope we can continue this tradition next year.
Of course, Mom and Dad often come together to visit me, and I go home and see both of them. But, there's something very special about knowing a parent in a one-to-one relationship. I love that I can do things with Mom that we both love that Dad may not especially like....and then do things with Dad that Mom doesn't count as her favorites. These times have created very special memories that I will cherish for years, and I pray that we'll have many more years together to make more memories.
P.S. If you have not yet gone on the Spoon River Drive, please consider it! Families drive from many states away to enjoy the fun. Mom and I would be delighted to be your tour guides!