More than a year ago, my mother-in-law proclaimed that she had always dreamed of taking her children and grandchildren on a trip to Hawaii. She visited there before and wanted to share the beauty of the islands with all of us. It was an exciting thought, but one that seemed years in the future. I was also a little apprehensive about taking such a long flight, nearly 13 hours for us. Then about six months ago, her dream became our reality. My in-laws announced that they had indeed planned, and gifted, a family vacation for all of us, a week in Maui.
We were blurry-eyed and disheveled pouring out of the plane upon arrival, sliding into the rental car. It was about 9pm in Hawaii when we arrived, yet our bodies believed it to be 3 o’clock in the morning. I listened to the excitement in my brother-in-law‘s voice as he drove, filling us in on their first hours of vacation, waiting for our arrival. His children and parents were tucked in for the night at the condo. We would start our family vacation together in the morning, over breakfast.
Seven breakfasts later, it was time to head home. Months of anticipation vanished in just a few days, yet I knew the memories of those moments would be with us for a lifetime. There is no question that the beauty of Hawaii is breathtaking. Our surroundings were both surreal and inspiring. We enjoyed building sand castles, body surfing, snorkeling with turtles, touring the majestic terrain and dining on local cuisine. The kids finished every day in the pool and the week was complete with a traditional island Luau. It was a joy to watch my children explore and soak in these experiences with their cousins, uncle and grandparents. I am incredibly humbled and grateful for such a generous gift.
But I think the best gift my in-laws gave us this summer was just time together. My favorite parts of that week were the marathon games of Uno, Rummikub and Bananagrams and watching the kids create and perform synchronized swimming routines in the pool. I am going to cherish the many conversations with my brother-in-law about our families, aspirations and out-look on life. I’m going to miss the simpleness of girl-time with my mother-in-law and the sweetness of my father-in-law’s smile. When we got on the plane to go home, my heart didn’t ache saying goodbye to vacation, it ached for my family. There is no division between “his” family and “my”family. I love them all unconditionally. We function together intimately, genuinely enjoying each others company.
“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ‘em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
I’ve always been thankful that the family I was born into, is in fact, a family I would choose over and over again. But I am just as thankful for the family I chose when I married DW.
*You can see more pictures of our Maui vacation on My Pajama Day’s Facebook page