I remember how much fun summer vacations were as a child.
Some of you may ask, “Are you sure they were all fun?” This question forces me to confess certain trips provided more joy than others.
However, I try to remember vacations which resulted in the most smiles. Number one–the beach.
A summer vacation wasn’t always guaranteed. My father worked long hours as owner of a farm equipment store. Spring and summer were the busiest times, which required working six days a week.
If a farmer’s tractor broke down during planting or harvesting, dad opened up on his day off. He understood the farmers needed help.
But he also knew the importance of spending time with his family. I guess even as a child, I saw how my father needed a break.
The beach topped the list of his favorite place to relax. While my mother wouldn’t have chosen this location, my two brothers and I approved. She knew the value of honoring her husband’s decision, and started packing a week ahead of the trip.
With the station wagon packed full of beach gear (umbrella, chairs, and floats), it’s a miracle my dad could see out his rear-view mirror. Add the kid’s back seat activity of arguing and shoving, and I’m not sure how we reached our destination without incident.
Upon arrival, we checked into an old motel. We stayed there every visit. I remember dad speaking politely to the clerks, and how they provided a clean, well sort of clean, room.
But as kids, the room didn’t matter. We would be spending most of our time swimming. After this activity, our room wouldn’t be clean very long.
“Let’s go dad. I want to get in the water.”
We all chimed in when one sibling expressed urgency through a dramatic, “I want to go noooooooow!”
While this doesn’t sound like fun yet, our parents knew the long (to us) trip required releasing pent-up energy soon.
Seeing our increased excitement, mother told us to put on our bathing suits.
While walking towards the beach, the salty ocean breeze enhanced our senses. We tried to run, but each time mother shouted, “Walk!” So my brothers and I shuffle ran, dragging our feet to pretend walk.
(We left dad behind to bring the beach umbrella, chairs, blankets, and floats. Sorry about that dad.)
When we reached the walkway through the sand dunes, we charged towards our goal. Laughter and my “girl squeal” filled the air. I’m sure mother smiled, watching her children race towards the foamy surf.
The first child to reach the water screamed, “Brrrrr! Why is it so cold?’”
After a few seconds, excitement erased any memory of our concern. Soon we splashed each other, resulting in squeals, then changing to laughter.
Under mother’s watchful eye, we ran in and out of the water, and back and forth on the beach.
Soon dad arrived. He barely had time to place the beach gear down, before my brothers and I raced to grab the best float.
As the youngest, I lost all the time. Yep, pretty sure I always lost. But it didn’t matter. I was with my family, and had smiles to prove it.
Dad started enjoying his vacation when his feet touched the water.
As a child, I didn’t understand how God’s blessing of parents who loved us resulted in fun for our family. I learned to praise Him for those moments, and countless more.
Thank you God for the gift of family, the ability to smile, laugh, and love.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (NRSV)
“…it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.” Ecclesiastes 3:13-14 (NRSV)
Nancy Frantel lives in Virginia, and is a published author of three history books, public speaker and researcher. Prior to becoming a writer she worked in corporate management. A “life interruption” injury in 2010 limited her ability to work as a writer. In 2017, she attended several Christian writing conferences, and felt led to start over in a different genre. Her goal is to write inspirational and encouraging stories based on her experiences, lessons learned by trusting God, and individuals He provides along the way.