Vacation Traditions, Part 2

Two weeks ago, Kami blogged about her family’s vacation traditions. Well, I just returned from my own family vacation, and thought it would be nice to share my reflections.

For some families, like Kami’s, the vacation traditions survive generations. For me, on the other hand, it’s a little bit different. Being the child of immigrants, my childhood summers were spent doing basically one thing — and my parents wouldn’t have called it vacation. No, for them, it was going home.

Aunts, uncles, parents, cousins...even a sister!

Aunts, uncles, parents, cousins…even a sister!

When I was younger, almost every significant school break was spent traveling back to India where my parents grew up. It was so common that I think I may have been in elementary school before I realized just what a journey the flight from JFK to Calcutta truly was! But the long flight and the inconveniences of travel faded as soon as we touched down on Indian soil. Because just as my parents were going home, for me, India became a home of sorts as well. Whenever I was there, I was surrounded — in fact, flooded! — with family. Uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents — you name it, I had a dozen. in Indian culture, we don’t hugely differentiate between first cousins and second cousins, or even between cousins and siblings. The word for older brother and older male cousin is the same — “dada” — just as the word for older sister and older female cousin (“didi“) is the same. Therefore, in India, I had family everywhere I looked.

My childhood memories of vacation are all strongly associated with layers and layers of extended family. And I always thought that that was a lovely way to grow up.

P1060527Except when it comes to my own children…well, I don’t have the same kinds of family layers to share with them. Sure, my kids spend oodles of time with my parents, and last year’s vacation was to go out to California to see their aunt and uncle (my sister and brother-in-law). But this year? It was just us at the beach.

As I was leaving, I remember thinking about how to make our solo trip about FAMILY in the same way my childhood trips had been.

I’m a silly person.

A few months ago, I took a trip to Paris with my daughters. There, I learned that getting MY way wasn’t how WE were going to have fun together. On this most recent trip, I learned something, too.

Even though it was “just us,” the trip felt as full as any of my childhood vacations (and I swear the drive was as long as the New York to Calcutta flight!). I learned that FAMILY with a capital F is not about the number of bodies you squeeze into a tiny space, but how much love you cram into it.

Here’s to great family vacations for all our readers!

9 comments on “Vacation Traditions, Part 2

  1. rnewman504 says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome vacation! Wonderful post, Sudipta!

  2. writersideup says:

    Loved learning (though I’m SURE I’ll forget!) the words “dada” and “didi” 🙂 And these words are SO true: “I learned that FAMILY with a capital F is not about the number of bodies you squeeze into a tiny space, but how much love you cram into it.” So glad you all had a good time 🙂 Now I want to go to the beach!!! lol It’s been years!

  3. I’m glad you obviously had such a good time. You deserved every second of your vacation after all your hard work on the wonderful Poetry/prose writing class you just finished giving. I loved your description of your trip to Paris. Typical of preconceived ideas!

  4. ssuehler says:

    My husband is from Munich, Germany and we always traveled there in the summers with our three sons in tow. (They are now 26,24 and 22). I had to smile when I read that your parents did not see it as a real vacation. We also had many friends and relations to visit. Strangely enough though we flew from Minneapolis to Munich, friends and family living 2 hours away by car, could not come into Munich because ‘it was too hard with little children’. We went out to visit everyone by train many times. Once all three boys had a gastro-intestinal flu in the train. They were ages 10 months, 25 months and three and a half years. It was hell. Then the friends whom we were to visit, wouldn’t let us in so we had to turn back. You cannot even imagine it! Well, that is long ago and we remained friends,( though there is a little part of me….) My sons don’t remember that scene, but they do talk about all the great times we had as a family. Vacation for us? Not really, but I would do it all over again! (I just wouldn’t get on that damned train!)

  5. Valerie Larson-Howard says:

    What a great post! When I was growing up, I spent every vacation going to Sioux City, Iowa (Clearly not as exciting as going to India), but that was where my mom’s family lived. I have a big Catholic family. My grandma had ten kids and her sister who lived down the street had five kids. So, my “vacations” were also spent with layers of family. However, now it is just me, my husband, and my three kids. I have also had to find a way to give my kids that “FAMILY with a Capital F” feeling without the extended family. You’re right it isn’t about the number of bodies, and we have had some great family vacations. However, my heart aches when I remember the time I spent in Iowa with my big, loud family. Those were some great times.

  6. […] those Nerdy Chicks, Kami [link] and Sudipta [link], shared their family vacation traditions that took us from Folly Beach, S.C. to India. My […]

  7. […] things going on in our lives and yours like The Minimalist Challenge (update coming soon!) and Vacations (more on this next sumer!). So, where have we been? You might remember that we started a sister […]

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