Here is a basic truth about traveling with children: There are always a million reasons to stay at home, many of them good ones. This is especially true at the holidays.
I offer this year’s Thanksgiving trip as a good example of this fact. And were I to choose to, there are a number of problematic things I could focus on. It took us over 11 hours of driving to get to Vermont thanks to some really bad traffic around the New York/Connecticut border. We had to do this driving in two cars because Matt was returning to Delaware for work earlier than I wanted to go home and a one-day, one-way rental cost as much as a weekly round-trip rental. The boys (both of whom had a nasty cough) got up before dawn each day we were there and were ping-ponging off the walls and each other by mid-afternoon. There wasn’t any snow this year, and the day after Thanksgiving when we usually go for a long walk to work off all that food was rainy and nasty. Worst of all, my father is having some health issues that required near daily treatment while we were there and caused side effects that to a less stoic person might be debilitating.
Reading that paragraph, you might wonder why I’m writing about this as a Monday dreaming post, indeed why I’m writing about it at all on a blog that is intended to encourage readers to travel with their kids. But believe it or not, this is not a cautionary tale. For in spite of everything I list above I have an even longer list of reasons why any expense or headache or hassle was worth it.
That list includes eating a wide array of homemade treats, watching my dad read bedtime stories to the boys, kicking back over jigsaw puzzles and Trivial Pursuit, looking at boxes of old family photos and realizing that Tommy and I have eyes that look just like my great grandmother’s, listening to my father and Matt banter while they watched the Packers together, getting a private tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory (private by virtue of the fact that no one else was along), going to the movies, watching Tommy play for hours in the backyard with his canine best friend Riley, taking a long walk on a country road, playing tetherball on a playground surrounded by mountains, and enjoying a gorgeous November day on the shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington.
But mostly the trip was worth it for one reason: the chance spend time with a multiple generations of families and friends, people who all take the same trouble to travel so that they can see the boys and remark on how they’ve grown and how much older I am (if I had a nickel for every person who asked how old I would be on my next birthday and then blanched when I said 40, I’d be at least a dollar richer). Truth be told, everyone doesn’t always get along. Nerves get frayed, petty differences are aired. But we all come together and breathe and talk and laugh and tell the same stupid jokes under one roof.
So today I’m dreaming of more family holidays. Not the perfect ones you will find in Christmas carols or in the spreads of magazines. No, the messy real-life kind with the challenge of getting there and back, the mixture of affection and exasperation that inevitably ensues when groups of diverse individuals who may not share a lot in common beyond DNA get together in an enclosed space, and where individual problems become a shared endeavor. Where people pitch in to do the dishes because it’s what they can do to help. Where there is pie. When I return from these trips I may feel tired, but I also feel richer for having made them. More than any of the other traveling we do, they remind me of just why I pretty much always bother to pack up the kids and go.
And if this post finds you rushing out to buy plane tickets, I hope you’ll stop for a minute and visit the Passports With Purpose site where we have surpassed our goal of $13,000 for a school in Cambodia and are now working to raise even more money to fund things like clean water and a school nurse. All funds raised go directly to American Assistance for Cambodia (AAfC), which is a non-profit 501(c)3 registered in the United States; this organization will oversee all aspects of building the school. Ten dollars buys you a chance to win $150 to spend on photographs at Shutterfly or one of many other wonderful prizes. Chance to win make wonderful holiday gifts.
What are you dreaming of on this Monday? Please feel free to share a link below, making sure you link directly to your post, not your site’s homepage and that you link back to this post. Questions? See About Monday Dreaming.