I’m lost in my thoughts. I can see the perfect summer family vacation in my mind. The kids are cheerfully building castles in the sand, my husband is pouring me a tall glass of lemonade, and I am nearly comatose in my chaise lounge, listening to the waves gently roll in as the cool breeze tickles my toes.
The driver behind me lays on his horn, encouraging me to notice the light has turned green. I startle back to Earth and realize I need to hurry and make reservations so my dream vacay can become a reality. I am going to plan our vacation as soon as I get home!
When I sit at my computer to search for paradise, I’m immediately overwhelmed with all the choices. Scenes from Chevy Chase’s Vacation movies fly through my head, reminding me of the common truths I should keep in mind.
Vacation Truth One: Poor planning = no fun.
Marty Moose: Sorry, folks! We’re closed for two weeks to clean and repair America’s favorite family fun park.
As I stare down at the family’s summer calendar, I see week after week of baseball camps, church camps, dance classes, theater productions…all really good things the kids really want to do. Then I try to merge my husband’s meetings, projects, and work schedules with my meetings, projects, and work schedules. There isn’t a single week left blank. Not one. Deep sigh. I can’t make a week appear out of thin air, so I decide to put this off until later tonight.
Two weeks later, I see that calendar sitting on the counter right where I left it, shouting accusations at me every time I glance its way. I know, I know! I HAVE to get this done. I sit down once again, determined to complete the task. I decide which week we will sacrifice in the name of family fun and fight through the myriad options to settle on an ideal location. I click “reserve now.” Of course, of course, of course that week is not available. Ugh! Back to the drawing board. I resolve to start the process six weeks earlier next year.
Vacation Truth Two: God gave me this man.
Ellen: I turned off the water, the stove, the heat and the air, locked the door, notified the police, stopped the papers. I called to get the grass cut. Did I put the timers on the living-room lights?
With all the tasks on the vacation to-do list, it would be easy to focus on the activities and the kids, but forget about the most important person…my husband. After all, I’m just renting these kids for 18 years, but God gave me this man forever. In Genesis 2:24, God gives us a blueprint for marriage.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (NIV)
It’s one thing to agree with the concept of one flesh, and another thing altogether to act on it, especially when it comes to vacations. This means I go to him with the calendar options and listen to his opinion. I won’t even blink when he cuts half of it out because I know he is wise. I also know he won’t let me overextend myself, because like God, he is jealous for me. I might need to look into spending a little more on the two-bedroom condo so we can have time alone together.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)
I will fight back my natural tendency to give all my planning, energy, creativity, and time to my kids. I will schedule time for just the two of us and make sure his needs are met during our family trip. Down time? Check! Sports on TV? Check! Hold back on extravagant spending? Check!
Vacation Truth Three: Family is family.
Eddie: You surprised to see us, Clark?
Clark: Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.
Whether they show up unannounced, or you travel many miles to see them, spending time with extended family members is a roller coaster ride full of ups, downs, twists, turns, and surprises. And you might just throw up when you’re finished. (No, really. It seems kids always catch something from their cousins!)
We love these people. We grew up with them. Why can visiting with family be such a tumultuous occasion? I have a guess. When we spend time with our families of origin, they see us as we were when we were kids. Making matters worse, we often live up to their expectations and fall back into those old roles…the same roles we’ve been fighting to overcome for years. One of us is the pot stirrer; one the peace maker; one the hothead. Then there’s good ole Aunt Bethany, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance when she was supposed to be praying. Some family members are just plain crazy.
Vacation Truth Four: You can’t please everybody.
Clark: Russ, we checked every bulb, didn’t we?
Rusty Griswold: Sure, Dad.
Clark: Hmm… Maybe we ought to just go up there and check…
Rusty Griswold: Oh, woo. Look at the time. I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car...
My daughter is a tweener. I don’t know if you know any tweeners, but they have very specific opinions about what to wear, what shows to watch, what music to listen to, and most definitely what is waaaaayyyy too babyish for them.
At the other end of the spectrum, I have an active preschool-age boy who needs to run, jump, play, and nap. You can see how even Walt Disney World will be a challenge, unless we can teleport quickly back and forth between Dumbo and Thunder Mountain. Or maybe, instead of teleporting, I could clone myself and enjoy all these things with the kids at once. Oops! There I go daydreaming again.
The truth is, family vacations are never going to be the picture of calm I see in my daydreams. Expectations are high, exhaustion is looming, and everyone wants what they want. We all need patience and grace every day, and vacation is an intense time that multiplies and magnifies our need to both give and receive grace.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
The only way we are all going to get the most out of our time together this summer is to remember this verse. We may need to repeat it over and over. Heck…I might even have a bracelet made to wear as a constant reminder. Maybe it should glow with blinking lights.
Please click here to receive these impactful blogs automatically to your inbox.