When I was growing up, my family didn't take vacations in the traditional sense. We never went to the beach. We never visited Disney World or Gatlinburg. There were no epic trips out west to visit a dude ranch or to go skiing.
But we did make a yearly pilgrimage to Canada every summer to visit my mom's family (and for the three years we lived in Canada, we drove the other direction to see my dad's mom). And those trips hold some of my fondest memories from growing up.
Since becoming an adult and getting married, I have made a number of trips to Canada, but the frequency has definitely been reduced. It's expensive and takes a lot of time to travel such a long distance (kudos to my folks for taking us so often!).
As our family has grown from just Daniel and I, we have felt the tug to connect with my extended family more frequently, regardless of the effort it takes to make it happen.
And with two kids under age six, and a dog, it's no little feat.
Last year we drove up to northern Ontario to attend my family reunion. We had missed several reunions over the course of the last five years and felt like it was time to reconnect. Daniel and I agreed that making the trip every 2-3 years seemed reasonable.
But being in Canada last year was so good for us. We reconnected with family, our kids bonded with my parents and aunts and uncles, and it just generally felt like we were supposed to be there.
We hadn't planned on returning again this year, but my nana's health hasn't been so great and she can no longer travel south to see us, as has been her custom. We really felt like we needed to return this summer to see her along with my extended family.
Also, Jack remembered our last trip and all he could talk about this year was that we needed to go to Uncle Mike's house for vacation. And so we did.
The kids really did amazingly well. On the way up, the 1,000 mile drive took us 20 hours and Isaac only fell apart at the 12-hour mark. And coming home, we managed to make it in 18.5 hours, and again they were good travelers with no meltdowns.
As for visiting family, it was something I was needing but hadn't realized. I had a chance to sit down one-on-one with my aunts and uncles and catch up, but also be encouraged by them. It dawned up me that I don't hear a lot of encouraging words in my day-to-day life and that I need to be more encouraging to my friends who are in the middle of raising families.
Having my family tell me things like, "You are a great mom," and "You and Daniel are doing a fantastic job with your kids," and "I know this was a tough trip to make, we appreciate you coming." And many other similar comments was encouragement that I hadn't realized I needed to hear. And I'm so grateful they took the time to pour into me in that way!
Also, I had a talk with one of my aunt's about the challenges of raising little ones. It's been a tough year with Daniel working more than either of us anticipated, and I have been burned out and letting resentment take root.
My aunt took the time to speak some truth into my life. Some of it was hard to hear, but it came from a place of love and understanding. She shared examples of her life when she had littles (30 years ago) and the things I am in the middle of are very similar things that she has already lived through.
It was good to hear I'm not alone and that silly fights over the minutia of daily life can be overcome. I have work to do in my own life, but I'm grateful for those conversations.
During the course of the two-day reunion, there was lots of visiting. And it wouldn't be a Lock reunion without a game or two happening.
We swam in the cold waters of Bass Lake...
built campfires and roasted s'mores while the mosquitoes feasted on us, and just enjoyed being together as a family.
Last year we had the chance to celebrate my parent's 40th anniversary and my aunt and uncle's 25th anniversary. This year, there were no big milestones, but we did celebrate my dad and uncle's respective birthdays.
My mom and her siblings had their yearly family meeting and were able to share a lot of personal stuff that needed to be shared. I respect them for making that a priority every year. It was a good visit.
Jack was a little disappointed that we were not spending the ENTIRE week with Uncle Mike and Aunt Barb, but we did manage to see them a couple more times during our vacation.
I am so grateful that my family took the time to pour into me, and also connect with my children. It means the world to me that we had that time together.
It looks like next year's reunion will be in the south. My cousin Andrew proposed to his girlfriend, Kayla, at Niagara Falls. They will be getting married in Tennessee next fall! Congratulations Andrew and Kayla!