Our family has taken an annual beach trip pretty much every year since we were married. This was something new for me as a newlywed. I think I had visited the beach once or twice, but growing up, my family vacations generally consisted of visiting family in other states. We did do some educational and fun things of course (who remembers the Land of Oz, Santa’s Land, Valley Forge, Forbidden Caverns, Tweetsie Railroad, Frontierland, and that awful chairlift up to Ghost Town?). An annual beach trip, however, was something new, and we’ve made a lot of memories through the years with our own daughters, in-laws, grandparents, and cousins.
When we were younger, and our kids were just babies, we usually went to Myrtle Beach, but for the past fifteen or twenty years, Hilton Head has been our preferred destination. Once we discovered Sea Pines we never wanted to go anywhere else. The beaches in Sea Pines are wide and uncrowded; there are miles of bike trails to explore (I still could get lost if I went off by myself!); and there are restaurants, ice cream shops, bakeries, and a lighthouse in Harbor Town if you’re feeling up to lots of steps. We’ve been there in the heat of summer, springtime, early fall, celebrated New Year’s and even stayed three weeks over a sabbatical a few years ago during January. (I know now why people like to “winter” somewhere! So.nice.)
Last year’s trip was extra special, as it was the first time we had grandbabies. We spent a little less time on the beach, and a lot more time rocking babies. Things still were pretty relaxing and quiet.
This year was a little different. I take that back – a lot different! Two toddlers (13-months and 14-months) have a LOT of energy! Pretty much your entire day centers around their schedule (when do they eat, when do they sleep, how long will they tolerate the sandy beach, are they in the mood for the pool, and whose turn is it to push the empty laundry basket all around the house)! I was sore in places where I’d forgotten I had muscles from picking up 22- and 23-pound little squirmy bodies. Between the babies and their grandpa, we went through two and a half jars of peanut butter, lots of goldfish (we won’t name names, but one child could eat her weight in them), and spent a lot of time cutting up food into bite-sized pieces. We ate a lot of early dinners (did you know babies go to bed by 7:00 pm…and we were all counting down the minutes!), and only got out to get ice cream twice. We washed a lot of dishes, picked up a lot of toys, and changed a lot of diapers!
I had to come home to rest.
But, it was absolutely the best.trip.ever! I’m sure all you who have grandchildren know what I mean, but there’s just nothing like those sweet little arms reaching up for you to hold them, the giggles, the messy faces and sticky hands, and yes, even the innumerable diapers I changed, because, well, it’s five extra minutes I get to be with them. And I love my daughters and it’s a grandma’s privilege to give them a break from what they do every day, all day. (Not to mention, we have awesome sons-in-law who do their part, too.)
Next summer will look a little different for us, as our youngest daughter and her family will be living overseas again. We plan on visiting them, but we are so thankful to have had this special week to make memories. I’m thankful Hurricane Florence decided to detour and miss HHI, even though we were praying for the people in her path as we made our last minute decision to keep our date for the beach.
Every chance we have to be together as a family is precious. Not one of us has a guarantee for tomorrow, or next week, or next summer. I’m grateful God gives us opportunities to make memories like these. We don’t take for granted that we all love each other, all get along with each other, and enjoy spending our vacation time together. Family. It was God’s idea, and I wouldn’t trade mine for anything.
What’s your family tradition? What place is special to your family?