A very family vacation
Last week our family accomplished our whirlwind summer vacation. And it was quite an accomplishment. For our nine nights away, we stayed in five hotels and three houses, coordinating our schedule with various friends and family members in three different states.
We had a grand agenda... stops at Washington, DC, the Gettysburg Battlefield for the 150th anniversary, Pennsylvania Dutch country, Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, the Jersey shore, and visits with seven different sets of family and friends.
Our three kids, ages 9, 7, and 4, got lessons in history, government, different cultures and ways of living, social skills and manners, and more. But the greatest lesson, I think, was the value of hospitality and family ties that run deep.
For the most part, we were visiting my side of the family... actual, biological, and honorary. My actual family are the ones with whom I grew up and shared a last name. My biological mother also lives in that area, and I found her back in 1996. My honorary family members are those dear, close family friends from my childhood who feel like aunts to me so that's what I call them. Most of these people had never met my kids before last week so I was excited for them to get to know each other.
I was truly humbled and blessed by the warm reception we received from my family after so many years apart. There were not only cozy beds and good food, but memories and camaraderie and glimpses into each other's lives. My kids received gifts, not only of the stuffed animal variety, but of new-found relatives and friends and a deeper sense of family roots.
We stayed in a few hotels along our way this vacation, helping to support the â€śhospitality industry.â€ť But the greatest hospitality was waiting for us in the homes of our loved ones. These people are part of who I am, part of who we are, for better or worse. Reconnecting with my extended family made me feel so grounded in who I am and where I come from, and I hope my kids got even just a little taste of that for themselves. With all our challenges, inspirations, successes, failures, and hopes, we are connected and, in fact, inseparable. We are family.
It was a crazy, busy vacation, and a challenge to plan, but in the end it was incredibly rewarding. I only hope we can do it again sooner next time.