Summer. Families are crammed into vans bulging with suitcases, pillows, headphones, and a cooler for drinks and snacks. Dads are checking the tires one last time. Moms are reminding themselves this is going to be fun. Kids are asking if we’re almost there, an hour into the trip.
What makes a perfect vacation? I can answer that in one paragraph. It’s being together, creating memories. That’s it. It doesn’t matter where you go or how much money you spend but being with the ones you love.
Recently, Randy and I gathered our six children and their families into a two-story lodge, nestled in a remote area of Arizona, away from any store, restaurant, or amusement park. It was the setting for an unforgettable vacation.
At first, we met some resistance, the majority voting for the enticing call of the beach, amusement parks, fancy restaurants, and the related glamour. I kept my mind open, considering several elegant accommodations, always returning to the simple. I knew the results of such distractions. We would all go our separate ways, meeting at the end of the day, worn out and cranky.
Not knowing when I could gather our chicks together again, I wanted this vacation to be unforgettable, even for the youngest. It was a risk. Would we be able to set aside the glitter of the world and have fun being together in one large cabin, with not even a McDonalds in sight?
After making the final decision to rough it and secure our humble accommodations, panic set in. Four days in a remote area void of worldly entertainment and technology might be a disaster. Assigning each family to plan a unique game or activity helped ease my fear of potential boredom. Little did I know all we needed was a creek, a tree house, a zip line, and each other.
My six children and their respective families are scattered all over the country, so some young cousins had never met. Instant bonding occurred as they ventured into the big backyard that was their playground. They caught bugs, played with sticks, and jumped rocks in the creek. We never heard the words, “We’re bored. What can we do?” No one complained about standing in long lines. Not once did anyone text or engage in video games. WiFi wasn’t available in our remote location so it wasn’t an option. Although we did have a large screen TV with a DVD player, it was rarely on. Surprisingly, the call of the wild was more enticing.
I watched my children interact as adults, engaging in deep conversations, remembering childhood pranks, and working together in the kitchen. There were late night talks and lots of laughter. Ping pong tournaments, handmade boat races on the creek, silly games, and attempts to catch fish and crawdads filled the days for both young and old. S’mores never tasted so good made around the fire pit with only the light of the flames and stars. As we gathered the last evening to watch a variety show that featured everything from break dancing to an original piano composition, I marveled at the love and support that filled the room. What more could a mom ask than to see her posterity gathered, happily satisfied with what matters?
For us, it was the perfect vacation!