Like a handful of sand, our summer is slipping past us rather quickly. And while many of you may have already had a summer vacation, many of you may be still planning or trying to decide what or if you can fit it into the plans yet this year.
I have always been a proponent of vacations. When our children were younger and we couldn’t afford a luxury vacation, we always tried to do something to create a memory of family time and fun. This seemed more important than the fact that my spouse or I “needed” a vacation. I wanted the family to have their “bonding time” without the neighborhood children ringing the doorbell or the summer activities taking priority over our time together. I wanted something to go into their ongoing memory files that would add to their vision of family time together. And I wasn’t talking about an elaborate family vacation. A lot of the vacations that we talk about since our children have grown up were those vacations that could have been likened to the “Griswald” family vacations. And we had a few. They still make us laugh until we cry because some of them were not “fun” but definitely required the family to come together and be there for each other.
Some of our fondest memories were when we bought a used boat and a used 16 passenger van to pull it. Now this van cost us $600.00 so you need to get the right perspective of it. There was no air conditioning. The “Caution Children” words on the white back door could still be read although it was pale after years of being in the weather. The vinyl blue seats still looked good, but had some cracks that would catch your skin. But the kids were excited to take the van and road trip it down to Kansas where we would attempt to water ski (I attempted, the rest did it), fish, and have “family bonding” time. We stayed in a place where we had a little suite, could barbeque outside or cook inside, swim in the very small, sometimes filled pool, or go to the lake. It had a few trees but mostly seemed barren so that when we stepped outside, the hot prairie winds would quickly assault us – encouraging us to hurry to the lake and be in the water.
Now when I think of those vacations, I do have memories of the fun on the lake riding our inflatated “Mobey” on the waves, skiing, or not skiing but trying hard, fishing, and the wind cooling us down as we whisked across the lake.
The kids in their excitement to go would be sitting in the van before we were ready (like they really needed more time in the van than they were going to be required to have anyway). But they would each call their own seat, three kids, three full seats to themselves. They would haul as much as they could, their pillows, their special stuffed animals, books, and snacks.
I remember one of the first times we were down there when the May flies were out. These bugs were like a big mosquitoes without the bite. We were in our van following another vehicle with a person standing in their boat as it moved away from the boat launch pad. He brushed up against some tree branches and immediately was swarmed with these bugs. We were in horror as we wondered what in the world was descending upon us. And we couldn’t help but notice that our brother-in-law (who doesn’t like bugs anyway) was obviously reconsidering his decision to join us for a vacation.
Another memory included our curious four-year old daughter wanting to check her teeth, climbing up onto a sink attached to the wall, only to be heard crashing to the floor as the sink broke into pieces and water flooded the resort rooms to the point that the electrical plug-ins were becoming an issue. We rushed her to the small city hospital to get stitched up and waited for hours while the nurse tried to coax her to put her hand into the water to clean it up.
And then there were the not-so-fun times of the boat breaking down and all of us holding out breath as if it would help us get back to shore. Or the consistency of the van breaking down when it vapor locked in the 100 degree weather which required waiting until it decided to start. Hanging out on the side of the highway with three children in the July heat became something we got accustom to. On one particular day my husband fixed the van only to get back on the road and an hour later have a flat tire on the boat trailer with no spare that worked requiring us to leave the boat along side the highway and come home without it. Ah the memories! And arriving home feeling so grateful. It was truly a moment of gratitude. Home at last. Vacation was over and we could resume life again. . . . hopefully with fewer surprises and trivial hardships. As my mother always has said, the best parts of vacations are planning them, anticipating them, and then coming home.
But with it all, we continued to go back there for several years with the same scenarios often coming up again and again. We had fun. It was time away and an opportunity to think about other things. We definitely got away from our work as who had time to think about work when other things were so occupying our time?
And you know, although at times it was far from fun, those are the vacations we bring up and laugh together about far more than we bring up our first big splurge when we opted to take all the kids to Disney World. So maybe the moral of the story is do what you can afford, but do something as it is time together that goes forever into your memory banks as family togetherness. And it does bring the family together when things come up that require shifting your plans. And if this does happen, consider that it is okay, things will work out fine, and that you are continuing to make the memories of your family togetherness. Continue to make it fun to be with each other! So here’s wishing you a good family memory this summer.Tags: creating memories through vacations, family vacations
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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