A couple weeks ago we came back from our biannual BIG- clan family vacation. What a great time we had! The weather wasn’t perfect – except for the windsurfers. The accommodations were a little rustic, the travel to get there was tedious, but I wouldn’t give up those one week, Up North vacations every other year, for anything. They’re never perfect, but the chance to reconnect, for little cousins to meet, the chance to strengthen our family ties, and for plenty of fun is not to be missed.
Looking back at my childhood, the family vacation with aunts and uncles and cousins was a gift that I didn’t know I was receiving. We loved that special week together every year, but being kids, we just thought it was normal. I never realized that my parents were giving us the gift of memories, of strong relationships, a chance to get to know Oma and Opa “Holland”. (I kid you not, that’s what we called them 😉 ) Now I’m sitting in their chair on the beach, watching the little kids swim, drinking coffee with the grownups, talking, laughing – sharing the anecdotes of life that don’t get shared in a brief visit once a year. Through these vacations, the culture of our family is strengthened. Inside jokes, stories that begin in the middle, and interesting discussions reinforce who we are. The funny tales of past vacations, the ridiculous situations that happened long ago are all fodder for the evening campfire chats. There’s no pride here… if the story is good, don’t try to save face. The inlaws are assimilated during these vacations and broaden our family culture. Their stories weave with ours till they are our family’s stories. And now we’re even raising sailors, and real fishermen – thanks to them 🙂
The biggest blessing of all is that we share a spiritual heritage; faith in God, through His son Jesus Christ, modeled by our parents to their children, and then personally discovered by those children. This is the tie that binds beyond all others.
And thus a family vacation is no longer just a vacation. It’s a living breathing entity of it’s own by which we pass on to our kids the experiences of our own childhood.
Do you have family vacations with extended family? What’s been your experience?