The kids and I flew out for a last-minute trip to the East Coast to visit their Godmother, Gail.
In my wise-old age of 42, I have discovered I might be a tad, or a lot, like my grandfather when it comes to trips. On one of our vacations to Europe, my Grandaddy famously or infamously (depending on which family member you ask) made us go to 12 cathedrals, 7 museums, and 6 historical markers combined with a multi-hour organ concert.
ALL. IN. ONE. DAY.
I kid you not. I have many witnesses still alive to verify my story.
This sightseeing was accomplished while singing the visiting country’s national anthem in their native tongue, no-less. The learning of the anthem was merely a fraction of our pre-trip requirement studies, along with a detailed book report (more like research paper, but book reports sounded more kid-friendly) on the multiple countries we were about to visit.
Grandaddy’s trips were the only type of vacation I ever knew. And I loved them despite my friend’s constant refusal in calling our family vacations ‘vacations’ and secretly changing the name behind my back to ‘tortuous historical excursions’.
Gail happened to be one of those friends.
So Gail decided it was her duty to expose me and my siblings to ‘real’ vacations. Certifiable, lay on the beach, eat waffles and icecream for supper, never dare wear shoes requiring toes to be covered – vacations. And so she did. But when her godchildren came along, she started to panic looking at our European vacation pictures we took while visiting my sister. It was imperative Gail’s godchildren know what a ‘real’ vacation was, and she intended to remedy this critical problem. And so, Gail rented a beach house in Sea Isle on the East Coast for us to spend 4 days of doing absolutely nothing historical or educational.
While Gail was panicked my children would not experience a ‘real’ vacation, I was panicked my children would miss on the amazing learning experience that awaited them in this new part of the country. So, in the few short hours of the two days we flew in and out of Philadelphia, our itinerary looked a little like this:
- A visit to the Liberty Bell Museum and Liberty Bell (the boys tried super hard to touch the bell after hearing Gail touched it as a child – thanks Gail, for almost getting us arrested).
- A visit to the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
- A visit to the Franklin national grounds complete with historical printing press, post office and architectural elements of Franklin’s original home.
- A visit to The Philadelphia Museum of Art (suggested time to allow – 2 full days. We rocked it in 1 hour, thank-you-very-much).
- A visit to Independence Hall with tour (We attempted this the first day, but could not get tour tickets. Our second attempt was successful only after driving through 5:00 pm traffic barely making it before closing time.)
- A visit to the Rocky Steps and statue.
*Side note: epic (okay maybe not epic) fail as a parent = my children never hearing of Rocky? They wondered why all these strangers kept running up the steps and knocking them down. When I tried to explain what Rocky was, they looked at me like I was hopelessly old-fashioned and assured me a movie about a boxer could not possibly be that good. I wanted to remind them that their favorite TV show was ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ which actually is old-fashioned, but decided against it in fear I might shame them into choosing a more modern favorite show like ‘The Walking Dead’. Needless to say, I made the boys run the steps while I videoed the interaction for their dad who very much knew about Rocky Balboa.
Did I mention all the above was accomplished in less than 5 hours – including meals??
I might have a serious problem.
But the four days we were at the beach with Gail were filled with zero learning mode and full relaxation mode. A victory for my ‘real’ vacation deprived children.
I have said this before and I will say this again, everyone needs to have a Gail in their lives:
A person who spends an entire summer painting and gel-staining ceilings on her back from rickety scaffolds in order to ready our home for our arrival after a long hospital stay…
A person who drops everything to fly from Chicago to Texas in order to be by your hospital bedside and cover you with comfort as you unexpectedly lose your baby daughter…
A person who takes a semester off teaching her university students in order to move into the Ronald McDonald House for months during a Minnesota winter for your daughter’s transplant…
And a person who makes life full of joy with ‘real’ vacations despite my attempts at thwarting them with historical learning experiences.
When you have that ‘Gail’ person in your life, you relish what an unexpected miracle they truly are.
I thank the Lord for our Gail.
“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family,” Proverbs 18:24.