Out of the blue came a strident voice from the pool, “I’m gonna punch that little mother f*****!” I peered over the top of my book trying not to be too obvious about my staring, but it was hard not to wonder what the heck was going on. I was pretty sure the woman was referring to her eight-year-old son, which only further piqued my interest.
In front of me there laid a beautiful turquoise infinity pool spilling into the dark blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, but from that very same pool screams erupted and drama ensued. I kept wondering how people could ever be upset amongst such beauty. I mean, we’re in paradise people!!!
It was then that a thought occurred to me. Vacation, the holidays, beautiful hotels, all of it is one massive setup. You spend all year looking forward to this time that is going to be peaceful and perfect. Time spent where your children get along and you don’t fight with your parents. Vacation is like a magical carrot just waiting for you to reach it only to find that the carrot isn’t quite as orange as you expected, it tastes a little funny, in fact, it may be completely rancid…
I’ve decided it is our expectations of what vacation will be that ruins the vacation all together because when that bubble of expectation bursts and that carrot you eat gives you diarrhea, vacation is no longer vacation, but a very expensive place to discover all of your family’s issues.
Families all around us were fighting and arguing and I couldn’t figure it out, but then I thought none of these people actually spend this much time together. Ever. All of the sudden put them on a tropical island with no means of getting away and it isn’t splendor—it’s torture.
My family is definitely not immune to this. We often joke that there will always be one explosion between my Dad and I if we’re ever together for more than seven days straight, we’re both just a little too stubborn and a little too similar, however, we’re currently crossing day 7 right now with no argument in sight, so everyone—hold your breath. But if it’s not Dad and I, then it may be Dad and Daddy or Domi and me. Spending so much time together is bound to bring about some sort of deep-seated family issue.
Is the answer to all of our problems to stop taking vacations and sit at home because it’s easier to have our family drama there? Absolutely not. Time away with your family is so important, but I think it’s key to adjust your expectations of that time away. Palm trees are beautiful, but they do not magically make two warring siblings best friends. We put so much pressure on our time away and on “the holidays” being utterly perfect that the poor things never have the chance to succeed because just like you and me aren’t perfect, neither are vacations nor special days of the year. They are just more days. But if you go into these events with the sense that life isn’t going to miraculously stop and become totally different than it is at home, these trips can, in fact, be magical. If you know stuff is going to come up and family drama that you had at home will likely rear its ugly head amidst the deep blue waters then it won’t be such a meltdown when the bubble is burst and you can get over it faster and on to the rest of the trip without so much disappointment. There is no shame in family issues because we all have them. It’s fun to point and say, “look at that family, they’re crazy, at least we’re not like that.” But then moments later you’ll find yourself storming out of the pool area because something someone said pissed you off. If Uncle Bob said something inappropriate last Thanksgiving, hey, he’s probably going to do it again this Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah and New Year’s, too. But that’s Uncle Bob’s issue, not yours to deal with. Remove yourself from uncomfortable situations. Go sit alone on the beach or on a mountaintop or snuggle under the covers and enjoy some much needed relaxation. And remember that it’s okay if family stuff comes up. It’s natural and every other family is doing it, too. Yours is not alone.
You deserve a vacation, but don’t put so much pressure on a location delivering magic and don’t expect your family to become something totally different when the air is more humid. Trust me, humidity doesn’t make anything magical except for the new heights my hair can reach in it. Happy belated Thanksgiving and happy early holiday season, or birthday or anything you celebrate all year long.
Happy weekend friends, none of our families are perfect and perfect is boring anyway and I am grateful for my very much not perfect, but incredible family. oxooxox