My family gave up fighting for seven days. No arguing, no “give it back”, no whining about people, no major issues dug up from the grave. No fighting.
I’m now at home with relaxed shoulders, a less chaotic mind and a full heart.
But will it last?
Plenty of Past Fighting
We’ve had plenty of tense times on vacation. There was the time when we were trying to break down our tent before a tropical storm hit our waterfront campsite. And the time when he wanted to eat a big meal at the perfectly researched restaurant in the middle of nowhere and she wanted to wing it on a bag of chips and an apple. Or the time when we sleepily arrived at our hotel that I had blindly reserved in the middle of Detroit. Or the time when he didn’t like her driving in traffic. Or, of course, when the kids are carsick. Or the time we drove for five hours everyday for a week and the car continually looked like a garbage dump no matter how many times we cleaned it. Or anytime we drive – which we usually do. Plenty of fighting. Plenty of tension.
A Universal Problem
I know you’ve been there too. This is a universal phenomenon. Take it from our family’s hero, Jim Gaffagin. His clip about family trips is way too true to life for us: “Remember when you were a kid and you’d go on vacation and you’d be like, “Why is dad always in a bad mood?” Now I understand. “How can I spend an enormous amount of money, be uncomfortable and listen to my children complain and whine? Disney! Oh, good!” It hits home for everyone.
It was For Lent
But all that past fighting was not really our motivation. We were motivated by dessert. Since Spring break falls in the midst of Lent, we all had various things that we were giving up: snacking, ice cream, candy, one day of dessert. We can kind of adapt here at home but we knew that if we were on vacation, we would probably all end up having to give up what everyone else was sacrificing. It just wouldn’t work having our family go out for ice cream with our 7 year old sitting sadly to the side to maintain his Lenten fast. Plus, let’s face it, yummy treats are a crucial part of vacation for us. If the tooth fairy could get a hold of my family’s sweet tooth, she would retire. So we decided to do something all together just for this week. My suggestion was turned down as not pious enough. I thought that for the week, we should give up our regular work and school. I guess that seemed like cheating. But we certainly didn’t want to give up on the food fun. Giving up fighting seemed easier. We opted for easy. Good thing.
It Wasn’t that Hard
I’m not sure why but it wasn’t that hard. I held my tongue a few times. Turned my head to look outside instead of giving a nasty glare. I quickly gave up my this or that to appease those around me. But it wasn’t just me. Everyone did this. With the exception of a few tiny reminders (none from me), it just worked. Except for one person.
One person could not relent. In fact, from the very start, he declared that he was not giving up fighting for Lent. Fighting was too precious to him. He wouldn’t agree to give it up even though it was pointed out that he still had a calling to be kind and heroic even if he wouldn’t give up fighting. In the end, it didn’t matter though since he didn’t have anyone who was willing to fight back. He was fine.
Back to Reality
So, now our spring fun is over and we are back home. We are back at the computer, back at the laundry, back to the dishes and reminders about chores. Soon school and work. I’m always curious about the purpose of vacations. Is it really just like that sweet treat we all crave? Is it just a temporary pleasure? Does it leave us just as fast as ice cream? For many, yes. But this time, I think something else took place. I think a seed of peace was planted. Our “fasting” may have borne a little fruit. And after all, isn’t this what Lent is all about?