Family vacations. They can be filled with heaven, or a bucket full of crap. There seems to be very little middle ground. They can bond families, or provide stories that cause “disagreements” for years to come. Surely you know what I speak of.
I think back to the times when the boys were little. At the time, we practiced the way of living where every single cent needed to be accounted for. It is hard to explain to a young boy why mom and dad can’t get them all of the hottest toys that his friends received the prior year. These are the unfortunate moments when the parents hurt worse than the kid. The look of disappointment, that isn’t just a manipulation, but true, honest confusion that will never be too far from the memory bank of my heart. Never.
But even with our chronic lack of money, we did manage to pull off the occasional family trip. They were not always smooth, but they were always memorable. For instance, there was that time in Colorado when my youngest guy stepped directly from the van into a large cactus plant. It took a roll of duck tape to retrieve the thorns from his perfect skin. Of course, after an incident that involved rock throwing and a deer attack, the cactus problem was put on the back burner. Thank goodness for nature.
There were the camping trips where food was forgotten and the closest store was many miles from our campgrounds. Who forgets food? But hunger became the least of our worries when the flat tire and Lex’s second degree cocoa burns came into play. Lex has hated camping ever since.
Who could forget the time my bathing suit shifted, exposing my entire chest to innocent bystanders? When I was finally informed that my “boobs were showing”, I should have just looked down and dealt with it right then and there. But, I chose to yell back.
“A lot!” she replied. Becky was right and I was Miss June that year at Lake Shasta. Nothing to be proud of, but it happened. It was one of my last memories with Bec, and it was all worth it.
No matter how awful the trip, the thing is, they are always worth it. No matter the country, I am fortunate to have traveled to places I thought I would only read about. The most impressive sites, however, aren’t the luxurious hotels or monstrous shopping centers – rather, the countries where nothing mattered but family and love. Hearing the laughter and witnessing the beauty of different cultures is truly phenomenal to watch. It seems the people from these countries aren’t striving for gifts to heap on their kids or trying to join the status quo, their lives seem more simple and peaceful. Their world is a million miles away from Time Square or the Eiffel Tower, yet, they are not envious of where we call home or the places I have been lucky enough to see.
Throughout all of the trips we have taken over the years, whether we were rich or poor, I can’t name a favorite. They all had their moments; they all had laughter and yes, even tears. But after we were home, back to our grind, we would have nothing but good feelings and were always very grateful for every single one.
Take time to figure out a trip for your family. You don’t have a ton of money? Kids are more easily entertained than we give them credit for. I know this for a fact. Things happen: kids get hurt, chests are exposed, and food is forgotten – but at the end of the day, beautiful memories are made. For these times, no matter the problems, when the kids are grown, gone, and carving their own lives - these will be the thoughts that make us smile.
Family vacations may not always go smoothly, but you can never know the worth of a moment until it becomes a memory. There is no amount of wealth that will take precedence over the family you love. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who have someone waiting for you when you get home, take a second to appreciate this incredible gift. I try to every night. I am not deserving of all that I have, and I know nothing lasts forever. That’s why I urge you all to grab each moment with the ones you love – turn them into memories. The trip will be well worth it! I absolutely promise!
Have a fantastic weekend! Dot – I hope I see you in LA. We’ll talk again on Monday. I will bring the coffee. Ruth