Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Family Togetherness!

   When the kids were little, The Husband and I used to say that we took family trips to Destin each year were reserved for just the two of us, but thankfully, a few years back that all changed. One of the best investments we ever made with our teenage and young adult children was the decision to travel as a family. (I am not talking about traveling with toddlers or tweeners here -- our youngest was thirteen and the eldest was 21when we started taking these trips -- which is a huge reason why it worked so well for us.)
   Eleven years ago we began by throwing caution to the wind. That very first trip we made our first acquaintance with and booked what ended up being two adjoining suites in Chicago at the Embassy Suites--a stone's throw from Michigan Avenue. Perrrrfect. And need I mention that the complimentary hot made-to-order breakfast saved us a ton on the food bills for six people, four of whom were adult males who definitely know how to put the food away. After our summer sojourn to the Jazz Festival in the Windy City, our next adventure took us to the Big Apple. We flew out on Christmas Day (a cheaper time to fly, trust me) returning home just in time to avoid the New Year's Eve crush and the obligatory price hike for all hotels.
     Over the years we have found ourselves scaling rock formations in Wales, walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, visiting Madrid's famed Reina Sofia museum so that a son who loved Salvadore Dali could get his fill, and eating an In-N-Out Burger after touring Alcatraz. We have hiked in Muir Woods, eaten dinner at the incredible Samarkanda Restaurante in the Atocha Train Station, finagled our way into Centre Court at Wimbledon and cheered from the stands at Wrigley Field. We have been silly and happy and grumpy and frustrated at situations and with one another. We have bickered and argued and made peace more times than I can count. Rest assured with our family, no trip is ever perfect and despite the best laid plans, we are never fully prepared for what might happen. We slept seven in a room in London that was designed for two, had a hilarious horseback ride in Mexico where we almost lost The Mom, discovered the culinary disaster (for us anyway) that is the Museo del Jarmon, and stayed in a condo that was located directly over a restaurant (oh the smells) and was not airconditioned to boot. We have seen some amazing sights, had more than a few adventures, and made memories to last a lifetime, yet by far and away the most important benefit that has come from our family travels has been the deepening of the relationships with our adult children.
   I look back at the photographs and cannot believe what I see. I am always asking myself:  How did we manage to do this? How did we afford it? And then I remember that the husband and I made a purposed decision to forgo all but the most essential home repairs, kept our forty (yes, that's gross, I know) year-old carpet upstairs even though it was literally begging to be replaced, continued to drive our junky old cars long past their prime, and bought clothes at Target, TJ Maxx, and Stein Mart instead of more expensive stores. These trips also served as THE Christmas present that we gave our children each year. Thankfully, our children all bought in to this idea which has made it all the easier and that much more fun!
    Now that we have married children and two new granddaughters, we no longer travel during Christmas week. Instead we travel in the spring or early summer and select locales that are a bit more family friendly. We set the dates and the destination more than a year out and work very hard to accommodate vacation and business schedules so that everyone in our family can be there at least part of the time.
    This year we will be living it up in Wild Dunes outside Charleston just before the summer rates kick in. We are not on the beach but are close enough to satisfy me. For a girl who grew up with the calm friendly waters and the silver white sands of the Gulf Coast, this trip to the beach promises to deliver a different experience altogether. I am excited and ready for whatever may come our way!

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