Summer makes me think of the beach. It makes me think of blue waters, clear skies and salty air. It makes me think of trips and adventures that pictures will never do justice. It makes me think of old friends and family vacations. It makes me think of sunburns and countless days on the lake. But above all, summer makes me think of my family.
The older I become the more important family is to me, not that it wasn’t already. I also realize that I won’t always be able to go on family vacations with them. My parents will get older and my siblings will start their own little families; our lives will take off in all different directions, making it harder for us to take big trips together.
I understand that not everyone can afford to travel five or more hours in a car or plane for a huge family vacation, and sometimes they just don’t want to. Most people work during the summer and most students are taking summer classes as well as working. It’s hard to just pack up and leave for a week or more. But I do think that family trips and vacations are vital.
I don’t mean you and your family have to backpack through Europe together for it to count as a trip. It could be something as simple as camping on the river for the weekend. It could be anything, as long as y’all are together.
Your parents aren’t always going to be around. Your siblings will get busy with making their own lives. You, too, will grow up and get stuck in your routine and your career. But while you can, take advantage of your time together. I know your siblings probably get on your nerves. My little brother and I fight constantly, but the time I spend with my brothers is irreplaceable. Your parents also probably drive you a little crazy most of the time. But if they’re anything like mine, they don’t mean any harm. They only want what’s best for you and to spend time with you.
I know you’re busy planning and sorting out what you want to do with your life and preparing, but don’t forget to appreciate your time together while you still can. Take the time to go do something with them, whatever it may be. Even if it’s something you don’t particularly love, go anyway. Go for your parents. Go for your siblings. Go for you, because one day you’ll regret missing out on that precious time with them.
You don’t have to go to Jamaica to appreciate your family and spend time with them, even though it sure isn’t a bad place to be (I’m currently writing this in a hammock in Jamaica). I’ve reached the point in my life where my time with my family, especially my parents, is important to me. I’ve also reached the time in my life where my mom is my absolute best friend above anyone.
Never turn down the opportunity to take a trip with your family. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Go west to California or east to explore Europe. Go stay on the lake for the weekend. Whatever you do, take your time. Soak it in. Soak in the smiles, the laughter, the memories. Remember the smell of the salty air or the pages of the book you read on the trip. Remember that funny joke your brother told or that crazy shirt your dad wore. Remember the look in your mom’s eyes at dinner as she eats her favorite food from her favorite local spot. Take it all in because soon it’ll be a distant memory when you’re old and gray.
No matter what you think or feel right now, your family, whatever kind of family it is, is Heaven-sent. They’re handpicked by God just for you. Enjoy every minute you have with them and go wherever y'all can together.
Cherish those memories, because those memories that turn into stories are what you’ll tell your grandchildren in the future and they'll be the moments you miss most.