In the past, I loved family vacations. Biking ahead of the rest of the family down wooded trails, jumping across streams to explore new parts of state parks, giggling with my sisters as we huddled in our sleeping bags in the back of our tent – many memories come to mind when I think of our trips. Sometimes my parents took us to “normal” vacation destinations such as Yellowstone or California. However, we mostly camped locally or embarked on trips to serve in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Our adventures might not have been expansive or high class; staying in a hotel was a treat for us. However, us children learned to enjoy nature, explore fearlessly while still respecting the earth and others around us, have fun without spending too much money, and see the beauty in everything around us.
After my depression hit its worst at age 12, my love of camping and vacations vanished. Instead of racing down forest trails, I curled up in the car, sobbing to go home. Since then, I have hated leaving home even for trips that should be fun. When my family soaked up the sun in Florida, I stayed at home to read books and starve myself. Many camping trips have included everyone except for me. Although this fills me with guilt, it seemed like the best option. At least I was not ruining my family’s vacation by complaining or panicking over little things.
However, I decided to try once again to join my family for a trip. On Monday, we left our home to go stay at a cabin overnight. Despite my nerves, I agreed to go along and attempt to join in the fun. Although it was difficult, the vacation ended up enjoyable for the most part. With a huge loft and stove for heat, the rustic cabin transformed into a house from another era which transported me into thoughts about fantasy worlds and fairy tales. Dealing with my anxiety and aspergian longing for similarity made the stay difficult, but my family helped me to survive the stay.
So, I decided to focus on vacations for this Thankfulness Thursday. This topic is difficult for me (as mentioned above), but that makes it even more important for me to address. Seeing the good in anxiety-producing things and people is an important skill that I hope to develop. So here are some wonderful things about vacations in general as well as some specific trips.
342. Seeing a new part of the world – The earth is so huge with wonders everywhere. No matter where you journey to, there are new and exciting things to see.
343. Living without luxuries – When camping, you have to learn to give up everyday items. Computers, phones, electricity, heat, bathrooms – things are taken away from you. This is difficult but it teaches you to not depend on so many objects.
344. Souvenirs – This might sound shallow, but I love souvenirs. Finding something special to remind myself of a trip means a great deal to me. These do not need to be huge items. A simple rock or special picture might evoke powerful memories.
345. Losing our way – On one vacation, my family decided to hike on a path through the woods. Nearby, a steep waterfall ran dry but was lined with rocks and undergrowth. My father refused to let me venture onto it but promised that one day I could. However, we missed the sign saying that the path was closed. Ending up lost in a woods just as rain began to fall, my father pointed to the dry waterfall. The only recognizable sight, the rocky descent was our way back to our campsite. This adventure terrified me, but I loved it at the same time.
346. Marching in Boston – While visiting friends in Boston, my family walked around to see different sites. All of the history inspired my sisters and I to start marching. Our friends joined in as well as amused tourists as we shouted, “Left, left, left, right, left.”
347. Pizza and pop after painting her house – While serving those hurt by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, we met an amazing woman. Nearly blind, she had us paint her house. Despite her disability and the damage done to her home, she remained gracious and light-hearted, even giving us a lovely meal of pizza and pop. Never before had I experienced such kindness from someone suffering.
348. Meeting people from other cultures – Interacting with people from all over the world makes you understand others better. This also brings better awareness of your own country and heritage.
349. Being removed from daily stresses – On vacation, you do not need to carry around the anxieties of everyday life. Work, school, and priorities can be pushed aside for a little while as you relax and try something new.
350. New stories – Memories are made on vacations which leads to new tales in your life. These are fun to share with others, scrapbook, or simply hold onto when things are difficult.
351. Listening to The Hobbit – My father read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit to us girls on camping trips. I remember snuggling with my sisters in our blankets and listening with wide eyes to the heroics of Bilbo.
352. Almost being kicked out of a fancy restaurant – In London, my mother and I went to a fancy French restaurant on our last day. The waiter thought my mother asked for pizza when she inquired if they took Visa. Because the two had such difficulty understanding each other, I had to step in and help remedy the situation.
353. Making up nicknames – On our way to Yellowstone National Park, my family made up nicknames for each other. This helped us grow closer together and enjoy each other’s distinct personalities. My mother was Frizzy-Headed Mama Bear while my little brother was Mud Pot.
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