Since our boys were very young, Paul and I have been blessed to be able to take them on an annual end-of-summer vacation, a last blast before school started. Favorite destinations were the Rockies, the Smokies, and beaches on the Atlantic coast. We have joyfully continued this tradition as wives and grandchildren have been added to the clan. Everybody knows to save the date – the week before school starts every year.
Our group now consists of two young families and two intrepid grandparents – a total of nine people so far — living in three different states and two different time zones. Getting everybody in one place at one time becomes more of a challenge each year. But family vacation is the single week of the 52 that for sure we will all be together.
This year, of course, was different. Hilton Head, South Carolina, was chosen as the location for our 2020 vacation about one year in advance. At that time, no one knew how our world would be rocked by COVID-19. Call us fearless or foolish, but we chose to proceed.
In years past, we typically traveled by air. To get to Hilton Head, we all drove from our respective homes. The winner in the distance department was the Chicago group at 965 miles. They also prevailed in the degree of difficulty category since their daughter is 21 months old. The group from Atlanta got the adventure award for taking the detour/shortcut and arriving first.
None of us knew what obstacles the novel coronavirus would present. Hilton Head would be an untested location for our vacation, and the pandemic would add unprecedented anxiety. We all packed our masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Some brought disinfecting wipes and sprays. The grandkids brought their own books and toys. We resolved to share cooking responsibilities so we could have all our meals at the rented house.
And the results? The beach was crowded at times, but our fellow beach bunnies and bubbas were mostly compliant about social distancing. There were several grocery stores, and we quickly determined where to go for the best shopping and the fewest unmasked shoppers. Nobody in our group seemed to miss going to Pirate’s Island Miniature Golf or the T-Shirt Factory. The Salty Dog Ice Cream Shop did present a huge temptation but cartons of Ben and Jerry’s from the grocery managed to meet the need. We had a wonderful week filled with sand and sun and laughter and love. I think we even got a fair dose of relaxation and rest.
That week with my family reminded me that during these disturbing and unsettled times, the most important thing remains being surrounded by the ones we love most. The only problem is that ache I get in my heart whenever I have to tell them good-bye.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae:
God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.Colossians 3:12-14
For each of you and your loved ones, I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you, that He will make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, and give you peace.
Offered by Mary Thompson
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