We love birthdays at our house. We don’t make a huge deal out of Christmas gifts for the kids, because in my mind Christmas is about Jesus not my babies. Birthdays, that’s a different story- all about my kids. I’m that mom with the ridiculous party every year that ticks you off because you didn’t rent a jumbo waterslide for your kid and now your kid is ragging you about it. Sorry, has nothing to do with trying to one up you. It just has to do about family traditions and celebrating my kids. Anyway, I just had in my head a couple years ago, instead of doing a birthday party for my kids 8th and 16th birthdays we would do a trip. We took LK to Chicago for an American Girl experience. Sam’s 8th Birthday was this December, and without question, I knew we would take him to Legoland. I shopped for cheap flights and deals at the Legoland Resort to get it affordable. Just over $950 for everything we spent for the weekend for our family of 4. And, considering a Chucky Cheese birthday party would have cost me $500, I think it was a steal. We don’t buy the kids presents in addition to the trip, the trip is the party and the present. Anyway, I digress.
On Wednesday, I was dropping Grandmother off at Belvedere to stay while we were gone. And the caregiver asked me, “Girl, where are you headed now? You travel more than any person I’ve ever met. Why you want to go so much?” Huh? I don’t travel much at all. Or, at least in my little world I don’t. Then, I realize my reality isn’t everyone’s reality. We are blessed and we do get to “go” a good deal. This year our “going” will include Legoland in Florida, Spring Break in Destin, FL, Disneyland/Universal in LA. And, a quick anniversary trip for Jeff and I if I play my cards right. 😉
All of these trips are about one thing to me: investing in my family. Our daily lives are nothing short of the Tasmanian Devil whirling through Franklin, TN. Everyone in my house is up and going before 6:00am and at 8:30-9:00 pm I am throwing the kids in bed still going at full speed. While I am working every day to be more present and an active participant in my kids daily lives, we’re busy. We are pulled in one hundred different directions, and even when physically present we aren’t always in the game. But, vacation changes that. When we “go” we connect. I took 2 phone calls in the 3 days that we were away: the hotel telling us the room was ready and my neighbor frantically calling me from Mexico telling me her daughter was in the hospital and they needed one of our workers (who was at their house) to text us a picture of their insurance card. I had 3 text conversations: my business partner kidding me about being in Orlando instead of the Franklin snow, wishing 2 of my clients and friends who are twins a happy 40th birthday, and reminding my carpool group that LK would be missing dance. The only other thing I used my phone for was capturing memories of my babies. In comparison, today it looks like I’ve taken about 15 phone calls already, and had about 30 text conversations- and it is only 1:00.
So, yes, I will always “go” with my family. I can buy my kids all the latest gadgets and gizmos and toys that will go to Goodwill before the next holiday rolls around. But, I don’t. Their grandparents do a very fine job of that. I choose to invest my time in making memories around the world that we will all hold in our hearts forever. I totally understand that this isn’t the right choice for every family. And, in some sense it seems like I “go” to escape my reality. Maybe there is some truth to that. But, taking 3 weeks a year to be gone and totally connect to my family is something I will never apologize for. And, to be honest, a whole lot of things will come out of our budget before I am willing to cut family travel. It’s just our thing. I will never be the person that tells you that you are screwing up because you don’t take your kids on family vacations every year. But, annual family vacations were one of my best memories from childhood- even the cheap hotel in Branson, MO where I cut my foot on the bottom of the swimming pool. And, if I can find a way to afford it at all, multiple family vacations and memory making experiences will be part of my children’s childhood.
May none of us take our opportunities for granted…….