09
Jul

Would You Like a Family Like This?

family vacation

When I look back on the major decisions I made in the first half of my life, many seem really bone-headed now. But one that most decidedly didn’t fall into that category was marrying into my husband’s family. They are a wonderful conglomerate of diverse Christians and somehow we manage to get along well. Unfortunately, as the years progress, we often fail to see each other due to living further and further away from each other.

 

Back in the early 2000s we decided that we needed another reason to gather together besides weddings, funerals, graduations, and holidays. The Reunion Vacation was born. We have been to Branson, Virginia Beach, Hilton Head, Nashville, IN, and now Estes Park. We do them every few years whenever we think the majority of us have been able to save up the necessary money to do such a destination vacation. We started renting out one large vacation home and despite renting out one the same size this time, we now don’t fit, because of grandchild marriages and subsequent great-grandchildren. So, now we rent two large-sized homes, hopefully close to each other.

 

Yes, four generations come together and we actually raise the eyebrows of the local residents, not because we’re the typical tourists tearing up nice vacation homes and not because we are usually fighting to the death with each other by the end of the vacation week. No, we raise eyebrows because we actually get along and actually enjoy each other’s company and do our best to leave the homes in even better shape than we found them. The first generation, aka Gram and PaPa, raised their kids right! And that has been passed down through the generations.

 

Now, it’s not all wonderful. We are human. For one thing, there are few shrinking violets in this group and so we can wind up with too many “Indian Chiefs”. And those few family members who aren’t as Type A often have to seek seclusion outside for mere survival’s sake from time to time. I, too, had to learn this skill since my own family was quite small.  Many of us are in our 50s and thus, none of us hear the way we once heard. Thus, all of these vacations feature excessive loudness! Again, a brief respite outside can often help.

 

And we do screw up, sometimes in a major way. Few of us can reasonably say we don’t have a few pounds to lose. Few of us are flexible (We breed stubbornness!) about some situations we passionately pursue. Few of us know how to quit working and thus, a feast with my husband’s family is likely to ensue at every meal and spreadsheets for all vacation logistics will often hilariously collide. (Yes, actual agendas, maps, handouts and spreadsheets abound. The Battle of Iwo Jima took less planning.) Individually, we all struggle with some internal mess at one point or another probably like any other family in America.

 

So, how do we cope with all of that? Grace.

 

Yes, we say grace, but I’m talking about the kind that comes from above. Because He loved us and forgave us, we choose to love each other and forgive each other as we congregate. Is that always easy? Nope. But this is perhaps the best part of marrying into a large family: if we get disgusted and lose our patience with one member of the family, there’s always another member we can hang with! Once I practice this little strategy, I seldom lose my patience for long and after reconnecting with those who remind me what patience looks like, I can regain some patience with the person who was driving me nuts a short time before.

Would you believe that there are 9 married ends of this family now and none of us have divorced? That love and forgiveness thing works, in more ways than one!

 

I hope all of you have such a family when everyday life seems joyless and pointless. But, if not, perhaps a few of the Points to Ponder below will help you begin to create such a family, even if you have to become “Gram & PaPa” and start with your current immediate family to create the next 4 generations of wonderful togetherness.

 

Point to Ponder 1: Name the 1 issue that seems to escalate tensions at your extended family gatherings. May I suggest that you ask for a banishment of that issue from the next “reunion”? While I firmly believe in talking things out, there are some subjects that are just too painful for some families to bear. If someone forgets that the topic is off-limits, agree beforehand to use a code word to stop that person from going any further with it. I suggest using some silly made-up word that creates a smile for most of your family members. Keep in mind that change begins with you and you may have to stop yourself from bringing it up and you may have to politely remind people to “cut it out.”

 

Point to Ponder 2: Can’t do # 1 because there are some really huge issues going on in your family? Here’s the good news and the bad news: You have a lot of company in America. If so, it may be time to take your immediate family and try to change only that end of the family for the better. Consult a pastor or counselor or other mental health professional to ensure that your family knows when it, itself, is getting into the same dangerous territory as your extended family. This isn’t weakness! It takes such strength to admit you need an objective opinion from someone who deals with such issues regularly.

 

Point to Ponder 3: Done # 2 and feel your immediate family is in a good place? Congrats! That’s awesome! Celebrate by beginning a weekend vacation tradition with your family whenever the money’s in the bank to do so. You can just go to the next town over and camp in a park or some other beautiful area, if the budget’s tight. You will be amazed at the conversations that take place merely because you are away from home. Keep practicing any suggestions that your pastor or counselor has given you to make sure the vacations keep going in a positive direction. (Sometimes a change in location can cause some to revert to old negative behavior patterns.) Your offspring will probably start to treasure these times unless they’re currently teenagers. But if so, have no fear—eventually they grow out of it.

 

You Might Also Like: 56 White Men; The Tyrant; The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant; Eulogy for a Brother; and We’re Still Losing This War

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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