I started this short blog with the intention of merging three diverging themes.
This is the third theme.
3) Conflicting needs, expectations and desires.
So, we’ve seen that children can be opinionated, unforgiving and short of tolerance, understanding and a bit of latitude when it comes to some subjects, and holiday destinations is one of them.
We’ve seen that desires and needs change over time, reflecting your growing experience, aspirations and financial constraints. Like most families, these desires eventually take diverging paths – everyone doing their own thing.
We’ve seen that while you may not see the need to vary from your norm, others expect, maybe unreasonably, that you should be at least open to it.
And we are already seeing, even at the age of three, a young desire to experience something beyond what is considered to be the family ideal. Maybe we will be able to take our grandkids away and briefly broaden their experiences outside of their norm, one day. Maybe.
We started our family vacation strategy from fairly basic and simple requirements, but even these were beyond what our own parents had settled for. It is fair to say that over the latter years our parents ‘caught up’ and like my own experience, found themselves suddenly financially flush and able to start enjoying more varied holidays with their friends, and even joining us on our adventures on occasion.
There comes a time in one’s life though that you start to sense your own mortality. My grand father had it, my father had it. And now I sense it in myself. Ooh, I feel a Yoda moment coming on…
“Time running out fast is. Hmmm, waste time not should you. If desires you have, actions must you take. Hmmm”.
A couple of years before he died, my dad started talking about “A big family holiday”. He wanted to rent a villa in Spain. Take all of the family, me and mine, my brother and his. One huge get together in the sun. It didn’t happen. I wasn’t sure we would all get along for that length of time, and logistically getting everyone together on the same two weeks was beyond difficult. Well it wasn’t actually, but we just didn’t want to put in the effort, it wasn’t important to us. But I realise now it was important to Dad.
I think Dad already knew by then that something was seriously wrong with him. And with a bunch of his closest friends already passing away, he needed to gather his family around him and enjoy what he had accomplished one last time.
We didn’t make it happen for him. We let him down.
I deeply regret that, it wasn’t a big ask, and we could have done it. But we didn’t. And now it is too late.
As our lives wend their merry ways, there’s a inexplicable need for parents to try to make paths converge again, to somehow recreate the original feeling of that close knit dependent family unit. I suppose it is inevitable, when you have spent so long nurturing it. It isn’t a matter of not wishing to let go, it’s a matter of having little to replace it with when it’s gone.
So, I also look at my life and think wow. Past the halfway mark. 45 miles and all that.
And I would, before I’m too old, or too ill, or too dead to enjoy it, also like to plan a major holiday with all the family. I’ve also considered hiring a big house, maybe in Ireland, or France, or even a large cottage in Devon or a castle in Scotland, but somewhere far enough to know we’ve gone on holiday. I would like to see the girls with their partners, all sat round the same huge table sharing wine and beer, and laughing uncontrollably over a game of monopoly or trivial pursuit, grandkids playing in front of the open fire. At peace.
I think I know why too. It’s the desire to see, in one single moment, everyone settled, able to live with each other, to know that the family unit remains intact, and that when we have gone, they will continue to work as one family and maintain that bond that we’ve fought so hard over the years to create, rather than fragment and drift in opposite directions, much like our own siblings have.
To just look around at everyone and think “yes, everything is in place as it should be” and to know that whatever happened now, whether it is next year or in the next twenty years, everyone is going to be alright.
But like my father before me, it isn’t going to be that easy to organise, with everyone having their own views of what constitutes the perfect holiday, and their own agendas and constraints.
It is going to take my best negotiating and diplomatic skills to bring this one about. And a mutual desire to achieve it.
But it will be worth the effort.