For the past six summers we have vacationed at the same spot, our "summer house".
This past summer, as Justin and I people-watched on the beach,...me 8 months pregnant and him still sweating from our "set-up"...we got a case of what the Berenstain Bears call the "green-eyed gimmies". What if our house was ON the beach? What if we didn't have to LUG all of this STUFF out here? What if we didn't have to pack a lunch and plan for the whole day out here? What if we were at a beach with a lot LESS people and a lot more SPACE? (Although I do love me some people watching and where else would I have found my dream tattoo, a scripted "Forever Young".) HOW are we going to do this with a 1 year old?!
We said right then...Next year we are going to look for a new "summer house".
So, like Mr. and Mrs. Bird in The Best Nest, we started shopping rates. The houses were on the beach...they were spacious...they would be much less crowded. We would pay a little more...no big deal, it's our yearly family vacation and we have room in our budget...We found the perfect one! The kids will be SO excited!
The next day, Justin tells Jay and I tell Betsy.
That night Justin and I have a conversation about how surprised we were the kids reactions. They were almost exactly the same.
"WHY are we going to a new place?"
"I like our old beach house better."
"Do we get to ride the golf cart to the beach?"
"Does it have a golf cart?"
"Does it have a pond?"
"What about the ducks and the turtles?!"
"I don't want to go to a new place. I want to go to the one we ALWAYS go to."
And, as so often happens, our kids really spoke to us through their reactions. They didn't NEED bigger...better...closer, and neither did we.
Our summer vacations with our family in our double wide "summer house" on a pond with a short golf cart ride to the big blue ocean are always the best week of our year. They wanted those fabulous summer memories together EXACTLY like they remember them from the past six years.
Why do we feel the need for more?
Why aren't we content with what we have already?
Which brings me to another point. Just because we COULD afford go to a different place doesn't mean we NEEDED to and it REALLY doesn't mean that the kids needed to.
Kids are SO good with contentment. Then we, almost unintentionally, teach them to want MORE.
-Currently, our kids talk regularly about how much they love our house and how they hope we live there forever. They talk about how when they grow up they are going to buy a house down the street and come eat with us on Sundays (fingers crossed!).
-The first thing Betsy said when she heard about the Father/Daughter Dance this year was "Oh yay! I get to wear my rainbow dress again! I HOPE it still fits!" I virtually had to clasp my hand over my own mouth when the words "Oh, we will buy you a NEW dress for this year." almost busted out.
-They ask for just a FEW items at Christmas and Birthdays and we give them more than they could have ever imagined getting.
Just because we CAN buy something or do something for our children/families/selves, doesn't mean we SHOULD.
So we've booked, and this year will be our 7th year at our "summer house" and we are looking at it in a whole new light.
-The kids will have fun meeting new friends like they always do on the crowded beach (You are so close, it is inevitable).
-They will get to remember their Daddy working really hard to get his family to the beach and they will see some real life lessons of conflict resolution :) . Work before play!
-We will laugh, as we always do, about our incredible tent fort that we set up and take extreme pride in. This year complete with a plastic baby pool for little Lu.
-JB and I will get lots of people watching opportunities where we will have lengthy, deep, conversations about tattoos and other things like, "How cool of a person do you have to be to get the right to name your child 'Maverick'?"
And instead of focusing on what we COULD have, we will focus on what we DO have. A wonderful family beach vacation where every year our family gets a little bit bigger. And we get new/old comforting memories of ducks, turtles, ice cream, golf cart rides, skee ball, the photo booth (a tight squeeze this year!), sandwiches on the beach, boogie boards, shells, etc.
And we will be content.
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." Philippians 4:11