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Best times on family vacations?

June 15, 2015

Earlier in May, I enjoyed sharing photos and highlights of a few days we were able to spend at the ocean romping in the surf, playing in the sand.

But as I look through my photos and sift through my memories, I realize some of the best moments were not on the beach. They were spent around tables when we were eating and chatting and playing games. On vacation, it is not so much the sights we see, but the relationships we build.

My nephew took his two children out of school for a week in order to join part of the family on vacation with Grandma and Great-grandma. When I quizzed him about getting them out of school he shrugged and said, “They both got great grades this year so …”

I got the picture. As a single dad, he knew that rewarding them for their good work all year was valuable too; time spent in nature, as a threesome and with an extended family of caring relatives was perhaps more important than additional hours (at the end of the school year) spent in the classroom. Of course they had homework to complete.

Family time is the icing on the cake of summer vacations and travel. That said, I’ve been through enough moments when the traffic is backed up for miles and everyone has to suddenly go to the bathroom, and times when sisters are yelling at each other about who has to sleep on the motel room floor or miserable roll-away tonight, or “But I’m tired of McDonald’s! Can’t we go to Burger King?” … “No, so-and-so doesn’t like Burger King French fries” arguments that I know family time is not all is it sometimes cracked up to be.

One of the highlights of this family vacation for me was getting to know my nephew Scott and his two kids again, and observe how thoughtful and kind and helpful they were. How had he and his ex managed to raise such wonderful kids in spite of their own ups and downs?Greedy2

Scott’s son happily cleared the table and set it up for nightly games of “Greedy” in the beach cabin dining area. I enjoyed watching the interplay of Scott and his daughter, who carefully eyed her father’s reaction to each play she made—because whatever her call and move with the dice, would affect his next move and opportunity with the dice.

Greedy1WebThey both seemed to be game for whatever activity was suggested next: it was the adults who had trouble agreeing on timetables and plans.


They pitched in to help wheel Grandma onto the beach in her special buggy, made their own sandwiches for lunch, played with their toddler cousins and generally watched out for their safety. The kids seemed to truly enjoy talking with their great Grandma and observing her reactions to all we saw and did.

StoneAndGrandmaWeb MeganAndGrandmaWeb

Don’t overlook or miss out on these family times no matter where your summer takes you: to a local campground or lake, a longer jaunt out west, or even just your own backyard. These years pass too soon.

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Jude 1:2


Some photos courtesy of Nancy Ketcham and Scott Kemp.

More Sunset Beach NC stories and photos here and here.


What do you like best about vacations? What games do you play?

Favorite stories from a family getaway?


From → Faith, Family Life, Nature

  1. Your putting family time at the top of the list lines up with my values. And playing games is part of the interaction with my mother I remember best. When we played Uno, a fairly mindless game, we could talk about other things around the table.

    We went to Atlantic City or Ocean City when I was a girl, but I preferred the mountains, where we plan to go in a few days.

    • It’s funny, I’m not that much of a game player, unless there are family members who are really wanting to play a game–I do so more for the fellowship than the competition. Now there are some games I enjoy for the competition and action–Dutch Blitz for one, Pinochle for another.

      Glad you get to head for the mountains. Always cooler there!

  2. Beverly Silver permalink

    Thanks so much for sharing, Melodie!

  3. It’s kind of my journal, too, Bev! Glad you enjoy it.

  4. Athanasia permalink

    Your beach vacation looks fun, and I would say, the more the merrier.

    The thing I like best about family vacations…time to catch up in person with family and friends we don’t see on a regular basis. Doing minimal sightseeing, for me. Leave me and my mother and any other like minded person in the coffeeshop/bookstore and we’ll be just fine while everyone else tromps all over. I don’t mind driving and visiting a historical house or a museum, but not big walking tours. And no hiking trails unless paved and smooth with frequent benches.

    Our oldest girl, married into a family that also goes en masse on vacation. They make small trips through out the year and in the summer take a whole week to meet at a cottage on a lake somewhere, it varies. My oldest son is married to an Hawaiian with a Chinese background. Her parents are older than us as she was born to them very late. For various reasons, they have no extended family so they are included in everything that we do.

    We like board games and have many, many. We have 5 versions of Trivial Pursuit, Ticket to Ride, Splendor (highly recommended), Quiddler, Dixit, Apples to Apples (one of the best ever) and all the usual Clue, Life, Hi Ho Cherrio, Monopoly, National Parks Monopoly, Muppet Monopoly, checkers, Yahtze, and card games like Uno, Skip Bo, Phase 10. Have you heard of Made for Trade? I’d recommend that for children 8 and up. It is based on Colonial Times and it’s my mother’s favorite to play. Besides Dominoes. The games make the rounds, not always sure whose house they are at. The 2 marrieds both live here so they borrow them a lot and we borrow some they have, like Settlers of Catan.

  5. Wow, you have quite a list of game and I like that the “games made the rounds, not always sure whose house they are at.” Have you ever played The Farmer Game? That is another favorite in our family. But our oldest daughter and her husband have quite a collection of newer board games too and they have a group they call the ETV (don’t ask, I can’t remember what it stands for, an in-joke name) and they try to get together once a month for supper and games. They now all have babies/toddlers so their evenings are likely to change! Thanks for this long wonderful reflection. I love it when those without extended family are “included in everything we do.” That is so great!

  6. My father, a farmer of course, started us playing it. I don’t know where he got his first set but we eventually bought one, and my daughter and her friends all had to have one. You can check it on on Amazon.

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