Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Family Travel

Numerous incidents I've blog-written…about farm living until I was 18.
Yes...our family was together almost 24/7 (as we call it today).
     Due to daily chores, any holiday beyond a day's travel was impossible.

One extended vacation was an extreme thrill to my parents, my one-year-older
sister and me (at the time, we were 17 and 16).  It had been my father's dream
to drive to Canada's west coast.  When he sold his last farm,
his dream became reality!

He bought a new burgundy red Studebaker (you know the one with the engine
in the back and trunk in front?).  At the onset of this wondrous trip, it was the
first time I'd seen my parents truly happy:  it was a sense of freedom, a holiday
together for three weeks, and the beginning of a new career for him in the fall.

So many highlights I could write about...but just to highlight a few:

          The drive to Northern Ontario to what was then...Fort William
          and Port Arthur (now known as Thunder Bay) was most scenic;
          then the drive across the vast golden prairies toward our
          Rocky Mountains.  Vividly, I recall driving through Kicking
          Horse Pass....a gravel road....no guard rails along the sides
          and my mother terrified to “look down” into the deep chasms!
          So exciting to reach the Pacific Ocean and to dip our feet into
          its blue waters.   The ferry to Vancouver Island...a boat holding

          The return drive through the  Northern States...their “plains”
          and on to Illinois. We attended a Chicago White Sox baseball game
          …how thrilling for my Dad and me!
          Of great pleasure to him was...airports. As we parked along
          the outer fences and for a couple hours, we watched airplanes
          descending from the skies to land...how magnificent!  And to
          see others “take off” with accelerating speed “into the blue”
          for their destinations.

These times together as a family, were “awesome”! 
We shall always remember the camaraderie
that became “alive”...embracing our four lives
together...experiences we never before experienced.

Let's jump back a couple or more generations.
Women who married usually lacked post-secondary-education.
Their roles in life were to marry, become a mother,
support her husband's vocation and run the household efficiently.

Fortunately, for children, the family unit was usually vibrant...a parent
was available 24 hours a day to settle sibling disputes, to teach  activities
within the family environment, to establish security and stability for them
in their growing years.  The children learned good manners, they learned
to participate in household tasks, they learned respect for their parents and
relatives.  Love...was bonded and prevalent between parents and children.

Over the past couple of generations, the “cost of living” increased and
one salary became insufficient to raise a family.  Women pursued college
and university education, established themselves in business...and usually
did not marry until in their mid-20's or later.

The “family unit”, in most cases became disrupted and vastly affected:
         Young children were placed in Day Care 2 to 4 or 5 days per week.
         Parents sometimes hired  an “aux pair” or “nanny” to replace
         mother and father at home.
         Children, often had a 2-tier-system-upbringing which often
         created confusion in discipline and behavior.  Chaos often
         resulted  and the unhappiness was often carried into the classrooms.
It behooves parents in our current world to...
maintain Family Ties and to create Family Bonding.

                                                                    Today, it could be said,
               The Family who Holidays Together,
               Stays Together.

A recent article, by Lakshmi Menon in the Hamilton Spectator
says it best:

7 Benefits of Family Travel

Taking a break from your routine life and going on a vacation with your family,
once or twice a year has tremendous benefits for everyone.  Whether it's a fun-
filled escape to Great Wolf Lodge or a vacation to Disneyland All-Star-Resorts
(bathing suits required for both), here are seven benefits of taking a family break:

Family members are usually so busy with work, school and activities that they
don't get adequate time to interact with each other, although they live together
in the same house.  A family vacation provides  ample opportunity for everyone
to have heart-to-heart-conversations and exchange jokes in a more relaxed way.

The whole family takes part in the planning of a vacation in one way or other.
This gives everyone an opportunity to contribute ideas which makes them take
ownership of the trip and therefore more happy to participate.

If you plan a vacation in a different area or country, it provides an opportunity
to learn about a new culture, or different way of doing things in a personal way.
Children can share their thoughts with their parents about the new culture
and also give parents a new perspective.

Enjoy your kids during this stage when they need you the most.  Later in their
lives, they may not need your help to accompany them for a vacation...
so value their closeness now.

Taking a holiday with  family helps you bond together in a better way
because of the particular nature of being together.  During a vacation,
children consider you more like a friend or playmate and discuss things with
you more freely.  You too will find a friend in your child during these times.

If  you are a parent who works outside the home, you can enjoy maximum
time with your kids and make up for the loss during routine life.  They will
look forward to such occasions to get more time and attention from you.

Vacations should make you feel more energized and less tense while you
forget the daily responsibilities of work, chores and bills.  You and the
kids all benefit from this more relaxed attitude.

Caribbean Cruise

While my son was in university and my daughter in High School, I was busily
working to support our family...in addition to car expenses and household costs. 
My job entailed working Sundays.  We managed quite well since my daughter
was frequently competing in horse shows...early in the morning, I drove her to
the stables to prepare her horse for van-loading prior to her horse show
destination. After my workday,  I would return to the stables to await her return
...then home to prepare dinner...usually in the oven on a timer.

Soon I recognized the significance to spend quality time with both. 
We discussed a Caribbean Island Cruise over the Christmas holidays...
places where they had never been (nor I), a mix of culture from island
to island,  activities aboard ship and side trips when in port, the varieties
of food and entertainment aboard ship.

We flew to Puerto Rico to connect with the 2nd  week of a cruise (from Miami)
already a-sea.  This was perfect for us with “port calls” every day except one.
We took turns selecting one of 3 or 4 optional side trips.  We went together…
to share these experiences.  This “family agreement” worked wonderfully.
In Venezuela, at our port call, my daughter chose a “jeep tour” around the
coastline.  A barbecue lunch was prepared for us at a fishing village beside
a crystal waterfall and deep clear water pool.  How refreshing that cool
water was… as it gently flowed into the Caribbean Sea.
This was a wonderful venture…immensely enjoyed by the three of us..
On the dock we met a family with two teenage boys from Norwich, Ontario
(my mother’s home town)

Christmas Eve we spent in Curacao.  So excited we were to see tropical trees
and flower bushes dressed in colourful lights.  Even a few evergreens had been
imported to symbolize the Christmas season.  Last-minute-shoppers was
evident everywhere…as at home.  My daughter’s great “find” was a
McDonald’s… for her burger-fries-coke “fix”!
At 11 pm back on ship, all passengers flocked to the decks to sing
Christmas carols accompanied by the ship band.  I cannot explain
the beauty of  this emotionally joyous experience under the tropical
moon and midnight-star-studded-sky.

We had taken  a small gift for each to unwrap on Christmas Day.
How pleasurable to open these gifts in Aruba before leaving to tour
the island’s rugged wind-swept north coast and the more placid
waters and resorts along the south coast.

These two islands seemed like gems of paradise set in an
emerald green sea.

I was so elated…and they so thrilled…to enjoy these seven days
together…a holiday we’ve never been able to duplicate…
due to jobs, further educational studies, marriages…
and now their children.

A Most Memorable Holiday Together!
And to this day,
they are not only my son and daughter
…we are Great Friends!

Words of Wisdom from “Buddha”

A family is a place where minds
come in contact with one another.
If these minds love one another,
the home will be as beautiful as a  flower garden.

But if these minds get out of harmony with one another,
It is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.

Merle Baird-Kerr … written November 23, 2012
Comments welcome…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…inezkate@gmail.com

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