We’re just back from a far-from-perfect holiday. There were many lovely moments: winter’s wind blowing spray backwards from the waves; the golden lights of evening on the harbour; sampling the world’s best coconut ice cream.
My husband was sick the whole week. He made it down to the beach a couple of times. Mostly, he felt lousy, so I was running this one pretty much on my own. I did my best to look after him, and help the kids to have a good holiday.
I used to think holidays had to be perfect. I’d try to capture that mood where body and mind are at peace, and there’s nothing to disturb the feeling. It’s not something you can get just by wanting, so I spent every holiday in a state of nagging disappointment.
There were also holidays of teary exhaustion because none of my babies ever slept away from home. And the summer I kicked a wall and fractured a bone in my foot (I was trying to put a piece of tomato down my brother’s back at the time, so at least it was in a good cause). And the plague year I discovered an allergy to midge bites. Yup, holidays aren’t perfect.
I have learned to be thankful for imperfect holidays. Watching the kids splash in the freezing water in their wetsuits. Sitting with my daughter in a cafe, sipping on spiced chai. A family game of Cluedo. I don’t care if I’m sitting on a lump of hard sand, or the kids are bickering; I love moments like these.
We’re taught to idolise holidays. We post photos of beaches on Facebook – #it’sahardlife – and wait for the “likes!” that hide our friends’ envy. We work and save all year for a week at a resort. We’re always in search of the perfect experience – the perfect location – the perfect rest. Like all idols, this one is empty and unsatisfying.
Holidays are good. They’re a gift of God for our refreshment. They renew us so we can serve him. They give us meaningful time with family and friends. But they’re not yet heaven. In this world, they will often be marred by illness and injury and dissatisfaction. They will always, in some way, disappoint.
There’s a better holiday coming – a perfect rest – one where there will be no midge bites or arguments or illness. A holiday only hinted at by those rare, perfect holiday moments. A holiday that will never come to an end.
I, for one, can’t wait.