The Things You Do for Family

I love my mother. I feel the need to be clear about that upfront. As moms go, she’s really quite a fine one to have. But here was her reaction, several months ago, upon me excitedly telling her that not only was I no longer unemployed but my new employment actually involved a significant salary increase:

“Where are you taking us?”

Travel is a thing in my family. A Big Thing. But when I was a kid, it was usually broke-people travel. Two weeks in the car, visiting relatives or the occasional old family friend, camping out at state and national parks, eating a lot of trail mix and cans of stew, hanging out next to rivers and stuff:

By the time I got to high school, my family had ceased to be as broke as it was when I was younger, but I was also busy doing things like attending writers workshops and working, and so I stopped going on family vacations around about the time they started in on international travel or flying to the coast and renting a car for a couple weeks. And then I was off at college and living my own life, and so apart from trips for weddings or family reunions, my travels with my family had essentially ended.

Not that I minded that much. My sister spent a few extra years sitting in the backseat while my parents drove around this country and others, dawdled behind them at countless used bookstores and on endless trails through mountains. I love long drives and bookstores and hiking, but I prefer to do it at my own pace and, ya know, not always with the people who I grew up with.

We’ve been on one everybody-all-together family vacation since then: a long weekend in the Bahamas the winter after I got divorced, which was suggested by my mother approximately one week after I announced my separation. She wanted us all to have something nice to look forward to. Palm trees it was. And it worked out pretty well.

So I figured it would work OK this time around too. I just dropped a ridiculous sum on a long weekend for all of us (including the latest addition, my sister’s +1) in Playa del Carmen right after New Year’s, and it felt really, really good. It’s partly a celebration of me having money again, partly our way of forgetting last holiday season, which was spent in the hospital with my sister recovering from surgery, and partly a tiny way for me to say thank you to people who I’ll never actually be able to repay in any significant way.

I was gchatting with my mom when I made the booking. Her response:

“Yippie! This made my day!”

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

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