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Lightning Bug Lessons

They’re everywhere. Caravans of families in cars, on planes, in hotel rooms and rented homes, in Grandma’s basement, sprawled out on their sister-in-law’s pull out couch, at Disney world, at the shore/beach/lake/cruise ship. It’s time for the annual family summer vacation. And sometimes, it feels as fun as the end of Thanksgiving dinner when there are a thousand plates to clean and the creative planning commences of what to do with all the leftover turkey. When these vacationing families cross paths on the crowded boardwalk, it’s often the grim-faced fathers that nod in solidarity to the other men. “I see you. I recognize you. I validate you. You - that man who worked hard all year to be able to afford this FUN FAMILY VACATION. You - that man who is currently carrying one child on your sunburnt shoulders, while another repeatedly steps on your flip-flopped foot, while another is running full-force down the boardwalk as your wife frantically screams after him. Yeah man, this is the life.” Why do we work so hard for something good (another friend asks this same question, in a different setting)? We plan, we pack, we agonize over which DVD’s to bring and which to leave behind. And no matter how much planning we do for the perfect road trip, someone always gets sick in the car, loses their lego guy in the crack between seats and no one successfully coordinates the urge to all have to visit the potty at the same time. In the course of a year, there are a few opportunities to consolidate the ‘best of times and the worst of times’ in a family's heritage. The summer family vacation offers that unique setting in which you can fall in love with the people you moments ago would have happily left at the rest stop at mile marker 334. In my extended family, we try to adhere to the ’72 hour rule’ - and no matter how much I love my family and vice versa - when you pass that mark, it can be like walking in a minefield. Most of the time, it’s fine. But here and there, someone steps left and you’re left wondering if the extra day was worth the lost limb. And then. But then. There’s magic. The packing and the traveling and the fighting fades away, and they’re on the beach holding hands watching the sun explode down. And it’s like your wedding day - after all the planning and the wrong-flavored-cake and the wilted flowers - there's a moment when he twirls you and smiles and says “Hi there wife.” Magic. It's like that when fireflies light up the sky like lightning. And you forget they’re bugs and remember about God. And think, He did this. He made bugs beautiful - the kind your three your old chases after to hold in his hand then say, “Mommy, do you LOVE this day?!?!” You realize in that moment that it’s this kind of moment that makes life life. This is the kind of thing that matters. And pretty much nothing else does. Not really. I decided recently to be delighted with my life. To try whenever possible to see the moments of loveliness, to remember that these messy (LOUD!) childhood seasons, like summer, like fireflies, are fleeting. And no matter how extra hard it is when everything hinges on vacations meeting lofty expectations, no matter how many juice boxes get spilled in the back seat from here to FUN, no matter how many times every kid says “are we there yet” like a never ending song - when we get there, we’re going to have magical moments they will remember all of their lives. So will I. So I say it like the old children's mantra: “I do believe in fairies, I do. I DO believe in fairies.” "I am delighted with my life, my delightful, light-full life." Delight. It’s everywhere. You just have to catch it, then hold it in your hand. (But more gently than say, a three year old.)

Lightning Bug Lessons 6/29/2013 4 Comments

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