My kids have come to associate the word vacation with a trip to Grandma’s house. And while I truly enjoy these trips, I have to admit that when I hear fantastical stories of vacations spent at amusement parks or island paradises or faraway countries, a trip “back home” feels pretty dull. I imagine the imprint that an exotic vacation would leave on my children’s memories, and I sometimes wonder if they are missing out.
But after another one of our typical vacations, I realized a trip to Grandma’s is really the best vacation I can give them—and myself, for that matter. We aren’t missing out on anything. Because while Grandma’s house is a lot like home, it’s also a place where my kids’ dreams (and mine) come true. Sort of, at least. They get to do (almost) anything they want and I have the pleasure of doing (almost) nothing.
A trip to Grandma’s house is an escape to the paradise of a simple life. Where there are no schedules and relaxation is a top priority. Well, for everyone except Grandma, who somehow, doesn’t seem to mind. She cares for all of us, which means the kids are never told no and I have the privilege of putting my feet up.
For the kids, Grandma’s house is a place where they get to enjoy all-you-can-eat cookies and bottomless cups of Kool-Aid. Grandma is happy to serve up any-way-you-want-it ice cream sundaes and whenever-you-want-it candy treats. She gladly cuts up PB&J sandwiches to my kids’ exact specifications and requires no more than one bite before moving on to dessert.
Grandma’s house is a place where curiosity and imagination come to life as the kids help tend the garden and mix batches of cookie dough. Their senses ignite as they examine the quiet beauty of each plant species and gaze longingly through the oven window, waiting for those cookies to turn the perfect shade of brown.
It’s a place where time stops and so does Grandma, every time a child asks for her attention. For Grandma, there seems to be more than 24 hours in a day, and she never runs out of time to dote on her grandchildren . . . or me.
It’s a place where my kids’ attention is captured by the intriguing curiosities hidden inside. There are age-old board games that come to life with a good dusting and little hands that are willing to play them. There are phones that hang on the wall, an unusual machine used for making clothing and large black discs that supposedly play music. The hours slip away as the mysteries of Grandma’s house are uncovered and my children get caught up in the wonder of days gone by.
A trip to Grandma’s house means there are no stressful itineraries to follow and no pressure to “see it all”—because everything we came to see is standing right in front of us. There is no rushing around, no shuffling from one attraction to another, and no overly stimulated and over-tired children. Grandma’s house is the main attraction and it does not disappoint.
It’s a place where the fun never ends. Where there is fascination around every corner. And where we have the freedom to just be.
It’s a place where Grandma does the caretaking and I get to take care. Where comfort exceeds chaos. And where our hearts our fueled by affection and our bodies are fueled by rest.
Sure, memories of an extravagant vacation would certainly leave a mark on my children’s memories, but there is nothing that I would rather they remember than time spent with Grandma.
They don’t need a spin on a thrill ride or the white sand of an exotic beach to fill them up. Those things will always be there, but Grandma won’t. And right now is the time for them to soak in Grandma’s love and affection while experiencing the thrill of being the center of attention, the apple of her eye.
While there are a million other places that promise more excitement, it’s Grandma’s house that leaves my kids begging to return again and again. Visiting Grandma is quite ordinary, but it leaves them with extraordinary memories of what they consider to be the happiest place on earth.
And I can’t think of a better vacation than that.