“No,” I repeated every time my parents suggested a family vacation.
Years of traveling with my parents and the realization of my adulthood (aka I can make decisions on my own now) turned my shaky okays in college to a firm no. For years, I resisted the cruise ship invitations and the possibility of traveling with them on a package tour across Europe. By then, I had discovered the millenial way of traveling—the DIY style of seeking out passions, planning via online reviews and blogs, and the joy of figuring it out all on your own. Falling into snobbery, I could not stand the idea of following a tour guide holding a red flag from attraction to attraction lamely nodding my head to a voice in Chinese as my eyes drifted and my stomach growled.
Besides the occasional trip for a family wedding, I avoided family vacation for more than a decade.
But for my parents’ 35th anniversary, I relented knowing how much they craved family time. My sister and I planned a trip to a farm surrounded by our cooking. In doing so, we remember why family vacations are not our preferred way of spending time together. It’s not that we don’t get along. It’s that my parents vs. my sister and me have grown in separate ways. Our identities have separated and the way of living is so different. The expectations of when I was young is different. I have more worldy experience than my parents and catch the vocabulary. But that certainly doesn’t make me better. Being a child and being a parent is different when the children are in their early 30s. And vice versa, the parents who used to take care of everything now are slower and weaker.
And yet, it’s not only that. It’s the moments and how we want to spend those moments, we can’t appreciate each other in those moments where we believe in relaxing. Instead, they are soaked in the decisions and memories of decades. But I admired my parents as they sang invited by our farm host. Their voices offtune and filled with Chinese accents still spiraled out Christmas songs.
And yet, if we were strangers, I would smile across the dining room table and say, “That was delicious, wasn’t it?”
My mom or my dad as a stranger would nod and say, “Why, yes it is.”