The Best Day Ever!

  • Published
  • By Col. Christopher Daniels
  • 71st Mission Support Group commander
My family recently took an extended vacation to Florida. I say extended, because I actually used 14 days of leave and only four of those were weekend days. I cannot recall ever taking so much time.

We landed in Pensacola and departed from Orlando. What happened in between was magical. We visited our parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, cousins, life-long friends and of course Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

I reconnected with my roots and was reintroduced to some things along the way. I will share with you what made this trip one to remember.

During our first week, we put no serious thought into planning. Each day we would have breakfast and then lay out the day's activities.

It was liberating and each day was a surprise. We had plenty of time to do what we wanted, and not necessarily any place to be. On Memorial Day we were in my wife's hometown. Along with her mom, we visited the Veterans Wall to commemorate the fallen and our nation's past wars. My wife's father fought during WWII and her mom swelled with pride as she mentioned to others strolling by the WWII stone. It is a nice monument with a river in the background. Folks were jet-skiing and slowly passing in their boats. It was an ironic scene, because those being honored were in a position to see what they made possible -- freedom.

From there, we went home to prepare for an ole-fashioned Memorial Day fish fry. My brother-in-law has a batter recipe he does not share, but my sister-in-law says it is really her recipe, he only fries the fish. Anyway, the food was delicious and the fellowship was wonderful.

As our week came to an end there, we headed to my hometown about 90 minutes away. My mom and dad retired a couple of years ago, but keep busy with gardening, church activities and raising cattle. Our girls really like to see the cattle from a distance and will not get too close, but they do like watching the calves play in the pasture.

While there, my parents gardened with the girls and helped them clean the squash and zucchini they picked themselves. That evening, my mom served those vegetables for dinner. The next day, my parents took their granddaughters shopping at the "country mall" as the girls like to call it, and finished the day at a local burger shack where I used to hang out when I was a teenager. Now that is a candid reminder of how wonderful the circle of life can be.

However, I would have to say one of the proudest moments while visiting was my oldest daughter's decision to play the flute at the church I attended as a child. She selected and practiced her instrumental and then performed during the offering with my mom's voice accompanying her tune. That exercise was a great confidence builder and the congregation stood and clapped to show appreciation of her effort. She will always have that memory.

After leaving my hometown, we made a couple of stops on our way to Orlando. We took the girls to the college campus where my wife and I met. We actually stood on the very spot and captured the moment with a family picture. Now our girls know where it all began.

The next stop was my nephew's high school graduation. He graduated with honors and received an academic scholarship to attend my alma mater. It seems like it was only yesterday when he was born -- another reminder that life goes fast.

Well, we finally get to Disney during our second week. It is truly the happiest place on Earth. We enjoyed each other, life-long Air Force friends who met us there and the atmosphere. The weather was great and the crowds were tame.

After our first of four days was complete, my youngest daughter was so excited and while jumping for joy yelled, "This was the best day ever!" No doubt, you have heard those words or even uttered them yourself.

For me, it was at that moment I realized all was right with the world. What my wife and I may have seen as a summer getaway for the family, turned into a life-altering event.

Emails, texts, and voicemails became trivial. That simple phrase put into perspective what was most important--time well spent with my family. Even though my daughters will have many best-days, it was that day which stood out and caught our attention. The more I thought about it, it became very clear that we have to focus on making each day the best day ever.

It is within our control to do so. A positive attitude creates an environment which makes those best days possible. Remember the wall I visited on Memorial Day? Well, freedom gives us the right to choose and affords us the power of choice. You can choose to be motivated or not. You can choose to motivate others or not. So take the time to smell the roses, enjoy time spent with your family and friends, have a fine meal, tend to your garden, honor those who have come before us, and make a difference for yourself and for others. Not every day will be a good day but always strive to make each day the best day ever!