For children, the holidays are spent in a fog of sweetness.
Distance and inconvenience disappear in a haze of naps, snacks and entertainment, and they never have to remember to check the airplane seat back pocket. They don’t see a check at a restaurant, review the items on a hotel bill, or set off an alarm to catch an early flight.
However, I am no longer a child.
When we adults go on vacation, as our family did recently in Greece, it’s a maddening tangle of dashes to ferryboats, punctures on mountain tops, and kids who don’t understand why it’s there’s never any maple syrup for Greek pancakes.
While my kids were enjoying the salty breeze at a seaside cafe, I wandered around an uncharted island in 90-degree heat begging Greek foreigners to help me find a vacation rental that might as well have to be the lost city of Atlantis as far as GPS directions made it.
And all that stress was with the to help modern conveniences. Who knows how our parents did back in the day when you had to plot your route on giant, unfoldable maps and manage dinner parties using nothing more entertaining than pencils and a paper doily.
It puts into perspective the family trips of our youth, where our parents dragged us across the oceans in airplanes, in cars for endless hours, and to distant beaches without the benefit of Google Maps, Netflix, and convenience stores at every turn. around the corner, filled with every food and drink known to man.
I wondered what my parents’ memories of those trips were, what they thought of the time my little brother threw up in the van while riding up the Smoky Mountains or the long car ride my other brother and I threw open packets of honey in the front seat on a bored evening.
Of course, everything was not more difficult at the time. We took off our seatbelts in the car and curled up on the floor to play, and the planes weren’t the mobile prison cells they are now. The seats were certainly not so small and close together that the recline made you risk violence from the angry passengers behind you.
I thought about all this in Greece watching my kids doze off in the car on the way back from the beach. While they slept, my husband drove up twisty mountain passes and I balanced my phone on my knee so I could simultaneously look for directions and look outside to avoid car sickness.
How soft and sleepy they looked, tanned but not sunburned and fresh out of their wet bathing suits. They hoped that we would get them to their destination safely, that when they woke up they would be fed and when they were bored filled with video games and coloring books.
Their memories of our vacation would be smoother than ours, the wrinkles ironed out by time and a child’s mind.
Which I finally decided was fine.
Because if in some respects the journey was for them, in other respects, more important, it was not.
It was so that my husband and I could possibly shake our heads in amazement at how we survived and laugh at what wasn’t funny at the time.
Our children’s memories of weeks would be hazy, incomplete and, yes, perfect, but ours would be shockingly clear.
And while those experiences might not be what he and I would have ordered when planning the trip, they would, in our eyes, be just as wonderful – if not more so – than any idealized vacation we could have ever imagined.
And, therefore, it would be worth it. Worth the money, worth the misery, worth the time.
The trip would be, in its own way and judged by all the parameters that matter, perfect.
To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.
Photo credit: Michelle_Maria on Pixabay