First day of the 30 Day (Writing) Blogging Challenge, and I’m going to have to cheat a little and schedule this first post. But for a good reason. The challenge starts tomorrow and I will be on the road for the better part of the day and when I’m not, I’ll be unpacking a vehicle and getting my mom settled at my sister’s home. Not settled permanently, just for the next three weeks while the family enjoys our cherished vacation at our favorite beach. Oh I can feel the sand between my toes already!
We have my sister-in-law to thank for this family tradition. Growing up my family never had the luxury of such a vacation. We never had vacations at all. I had the opportunity to vacation with the family across the street who were more like my second family than neighbors. It was the first time away from my mom, and the first time to ever see an ocean. Honestly, I don’t recall the visit to the beach during that trip as much as I remember some other things. I was pretty young, I think probably ten or twelve. Those memories will have to be the topic of another post. I digress…
My husband’s sister and her family had been vacationing in Florida for several years when they asked that one of our daughter’s accompany them to serve as a mother’s helper. In return, she got to enjoy the vacation and some time on the beach in exchange for a very few hours watching their young boys. It was a good arrangement. They had extended the invitation to us several times, encouraging us to find a condo near them and vacation together, but we just never took the plunge. Until we did. And then we were hooked. Now we vacation at the same spot every year, with a few exceptions due to weddings and births, and we start the countdown for the following year pretty much before we exit the condo parking garage. It is our happy place.
It’s amazing to look back on the photos of our visits, to see all that we have experienced, the people who have come and gone in our lives, the challenges we’ve faced, and the joy of our family tree growing. It started out as a week that just wasn’t quite enough - we were never ready to leave when checkout time arrived. The year my husband and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary, we chose to do so with our family for a full two weeks at our happy place. Now that’s more like it. We have never gone back to a single week since, and we can’t imagine that we ever would unless there was something more attractive to split the vacation time between.
God willing, in 3 days and 21 hours we’ll load up in the cars, some on planes this year, and head south for the most anticipated days of our year. It’s not just about time away from home, it’s the time we spend together without all the daily responsibilities and distractions. Carefree timelessness my friend calls it - sharing it from Matthew Kelly. It’s life-giving. It’s a gift, and I am so very thankful for it.