What I love about family vacation is a characteristic that - in my opinion - is simultaneously the best and most difficult part of the tradition. Bringing separate families together into one is the best part of family vacation! And, bringing separate families together into one is the hardest part of family vacation! Regarding the latter, invariably throughout the course of the week there will be moments where the choices or habits of one family will at least somewhat frustrate another. But concerning the former, there are far more moments when it is truly sweet for our children to experience what is means to be a smaller part of the larger whole: in this case, a member of the "Christian" family.
These pictures are snapshots of some of those moments. For instance, our daughter Eva has recently initiated an interest in collecting coins. She has especially been intrigued by the unique quarter created for each of the 50 states since returning to the USA. When she told this to her Uncle Dave, he spent time introducing her to his own coin collection. To her delight, he also gifted her a collector's book for the state coins so she could keep track of the ones she gathered throughout this furlough year! These are special moments I cherish of connection between family members.
Speaking of connection, this trio has had one since they first met and my-oh-my can they still cackle and chatter like nobody's business when they get together! It usually takes only one trip in a car with these three together for a parent or aunt or uncle to realize that perhaps other riding arrangements are best for the driver's sanity! Sometimes they need a little adult wisdom inserted into their wild dreams, but for the most part they are pure energy and imagination and joy. Ian, Alec and Kendra, I am glad you have one another!
I love that on family vacations, our kids learn that there are other adults who care about them. Sometimes this is learned through laughter as games and teasing are shared. Occasionally it is learned through correction (never fun, but sometimes necessary even on family vacation!) Perhaps they may not realize this until they are older, but it can even be learned through the everyday meals prepared for them. After all, who wouldn't feel loved by Uncle Mark's perfect pancakes made to order (with or without chocolate chips) and Uncle Pedro's tremendous tacos for breakfast?
Making group memories as we try new things together as a family is also a highlight. Many years ago, that meant descending deep into caverns under the earth with small children and babes in arms. This time, it meant heading to a family-friendly amusement park on a hot summer day and spreading out in different directions in twos and threes and fours to experience the rides and thrills. I loved seeing the joy and excitement on Sofia's face when she rode bumper cars with cousin Isabel. It was adorable to watch cousins Silas and Kai on toddler rides together. And convincing Mom-Mom to splash down the Skloosh with us was just too much fun!
For several of the kids, making memories meant going strawberry picking with Uncle Dave and Uncle Mark which was a brand-new experience for some. For the girls, a day shopping at the outlets and sipping frozen smoothies for Isabel's birthday was a fun opportunity (followed of course by cake and ice cream with the whole gang!) Several of the boys enjoyed a day hiking at a beautiful park, and all of the boys made countless "memories" around video games and the ping pong/air hockey/pool tables, respectively! Also at different times, different groupings of cousins visited the self-proclaimed "World's Largest General Store" which was an interesting diversion. Family memories become sweeter when they are shared, and thankfully there was a lot of sharing going around.
As parents, I think we would all agree that seeing our children become closer cousins and better friends will always be one of the dearest aspects of family vacation. Whether it was splashing in the pool or sweating in the sauna; watching a movie on tv or making one together on the tablet; scavenger hunting or hunting for another snack; hugging or wrestling; all the moments of companionship made for a caleidoscope of happy memories.
And these are the moments to remember.
(Read Part One)