Long before National Kids Day was created in 1994 , there was a Kids’ Day already in play. It wasn’t national, but it was “official” in the McKeown household, and had been since 1988.

When my husband Shane was 10, he and his sister realized that there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but there was no day reserved for them. They thought that was quite unfair, so they questioned their parents, Scott and Connie.

The family held discussions and came to a decision — Aug. 1 would be their very own Kids’ Day. The clan chose that date for several reasons: It happened to fall on a weekend that year, it was toward the end of the summer, and there weren’t other big celebrations taking place that month, except  Scott’s birthday.

I talked to Scott and Connie to get some inside information on Shane’s first Kids’ Day celebration. They both lit up as they reminisced about that day 25 years ago. My in-laws told me that the entire day was devoted to the children. They saw a movie, let the kids pick out a special meal to eat and even went to the store to choose a new toy.

Shane told me that the annual Kids’ Day celebrations continued until he was around 20. Maybe that’s when he decided he wasn’t a child anymore and no longer needed to have that form of special recognition.

Even though Shane stopped celebrating Kids’ Day from the perspective of a child, it clearly made a positive impression on him. When July 31 rolled around this year, he asked me if I knew what the following day was.

Mulling it over for a moment, I cautiously answered, “August first?”

Shane eagerly replied, “It’s Kids’ Day!”

Having heard my husband talk about this highly acclaimed “holiday” previously, I jumped on board. We decided that it was time for our now 21-month-old son Zachary to start celebrating Kids’ Day.

So on the first day of August, Shane and I wished our little man “happy Kids’ Day” countless times. We didn’t plan a day-long celebration since Zachary is so young. Instead, we kept it simple by playing with toys at home and treating him to ice cream, his current favorite dessert.

Zachary had fun choosing, sampling and eating ice cream while watching fellow customers enjoy their chilly desserts. While he had a great time, he’s too young to grasp the concept that we were celebrating Kids’ Day in his honor that evening.

Watching Shane look so fondly at Zachary while they enjoyed their ice cream, I realized that this year’s festivities were more for Shane. It’s a way of carrying on a long-standing tradition from his childhood, as he now debuts it with his own son. It’s a marvelous family event filled with wonderful memories from his past and countless new ones to be created. It’s something Shane looked forward to each year through the eyes of a child.

Now an adult, he is able to enjoy this “holiday” all the more — from the perspective of a father celebrating the son he so lovingly helps raise and from whom he has incredible hopes and dreams.

Scott told me when Shane was growing up, the celebration was as much fun for the adults as it was for the kids. After celebrating Kids’ Day with Shane and Zachary, I definitely agree.

Email Sarah McKeown

at east@azstarnet.com