I love vacations. My mom was a big contributing factor to this. She was always so excited about our vacations. When we came back from school on the last day of the term, she would greet us with “Happy Holidays!” There would often be a small gift (a chocolate or so) waiting on our pillow to help us start our vacation properly. I never, not once, heard her complain that the holidays were too long or that she would be glad when school started again. My mom was excited to have us at home and she made sure that we knew it. (Don’t make a mistake, we went to school from our home and never lived away from home. This is how she was any way 😍!)
My mom was like this whether we were going to the coast for the vacation, whether we were just going around the corner or whether we stayed at home. We looked forward to the vacation and she had a lot to do with it. Her excitement was contagious!
She could make the most everyday actions an adventure. We often went to the coast for our summer vacations. Part of the treat and excitement was the variety of fruit that she bought for us to eat down there. Litchis, mangoes, bananas and pineapples were in abundance. She would call us to the table for a snack and while listening to all the exciting things we were chattering about, she would patiently be peeling fruit for everyone. And she would share her memories of when she was a little girl with us. A fruit snack never entailed only eating the fruit. It started with the way she peeled the mangoes. She would try to do it in one go.
We would stare in fascination at the looooooong peel appearing at the end of her knife. All the time she would be giving a running commentary on what she was doing. Although she always served herself last, she was often the first to finish it. Then she would wash the pip clean of the flesh, scrape some of the hair off the pip and draw a face on it. In no time, we would all have mango men.
Or she would cut fruit teeth, put them in her mouth when no one was looking and then look back without making anyone aware of what she did. She would just sit there with those funny teeth. When one of us would notice it and shout with laughter, she would start pulling funny faces. My mom’s joie de vivre made our vacations special.
Another thing that she did to make our vacations so special is that she did not just send us off to do things. She often joined us and did it with us. When we went to the coast she would swim with us right behind the biggest breakers. My mom would climb the rocks with us and look in the small rock pools or she would help us look for beautiful shells on the beach. She played board games with us. She built sand castles with us. Even at 82, and not so ambulatory any more, she would sit on a chair on the beach and help our son to build sand castles. But she could also just sit and read next to us, whether we were playing or also reading. And when we were ready to chat, she would listen. My mom was there for us.
A few years ago my sister’s children came to visit my parents for a few days without their parents. This was not a regular occurrence since they lived quite a distance away. I watched with fascination how my mom prepared for those days. She bought coloring books and coloring pencils. Paint and brushes went onto the list. She found the old story records that we used to listen to when we were small. She planned on time spent in the garden. Grandma planned on letting them pick up small stones and painting it. She bought story books for them. There were puzzles to build. Those children never had a chance to miss their parents!
I realised then what her secret was for our vacations as well. She never had our days planned by the minute with a roster up. But she had an arsenal of activities and ideas. The moment that we did not know what to do or became a bit bored, she would get one of her ideas out and play with us for a while. Although she did not entertain us all the time, she was around, ready for us.
I have come to the conclusion that wonderful vacations do not depend on how much money we have to spend but on our planning, availability and joie de vivre with which we tackle them.
Do you have nice memories of vacations? I’d love to hear what do you do to make vacations special for your children?
Photographs: Dark Chocolate Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay Mangoes Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay