We have a habit of vacationing at Christmas. This year, thanks to Alaska Airlines’ direct service from Oakland to Kona, it didn’t take much arm-twisting to convince us that the Big Island was the way to go. It was, of course, fantastic to be away, but this vacation also taught me some valuable lessons.
Revelation 1: Things don’t always work according to plan.
Within hours of landing in Kona, my husband showed the first signs of his annual relaxation cold. It happens every year at this time, the only week of the year where he actually relaxes and stops working 14-hour days like he does the other 51 weeks of the year.
Lesson: Next year, book a two-week trip so he can get the sickness out of the way and still enjoy part of his vacation.
Revelation 2: A little perspective helps when you can’t control the variables.
We landed in Kona with a detailed shopping list and stocked up on groceries for the week. Two days into the vacation, the condo fridge died. Being on Island Time as we were, the best case scenario for replacement left us without refrigeration for four of our seven days. In spite of our best efforts with coolers and bags of ice, half of our groceries went into the garbage. After being temporarily distraught about the money we’d thrown into the dumpster, I gave it some thought: even with the spoiled food, we were still ahead of the game vs. the cost of eating out at every meal. We still cooked our dinners at home, buying one meal’s ingredients at a time each afternoon, and when the new fridge finally did arrive I had an entirely new appreciation for the appliance.
Lesson: Don’t waste time being upset about things that are out of your control.
Revelation 3: Baby steps.
We threw a lot at the kid this week. He was faced with ocean waves and convertibles and at first, he completely freaked out. We’re talking about barely dipping toes into the water and hands-over-the-face hysteria about the wind. But we explained what he could expect and let him go at his own pace. Before the week was over he was not only doing some very tense floating in the deep (from his perspective, anyway) ocean water, and riding at highway speeds with the top down, but he was asking to do both.
Lesson: You don’t always have to jump in all at once. Take some time to get comfortable and ask questions before moving on to the next step.
Revelation 4: Know your limitations and accept them.
I’m the child of a redhead, covered head to toe in freckles. Even with SPF 45+, there are limits to the amount of time that I can spend in the sun before I’m burned beyond recognition and completely miserable. This year, thanks to having a child that still needs an afternoon nap, my sun exposure was limited and I had my first-ever sunburn-free vacation. I still spent my afternoons reading and writing on the patio, enjoying the warmth of the outdoors, but I didn’t have to park myself under a beach umbrella, covered by sunscreen, hats and long sleeves.
Lesson: It may not be glamorous to spend half your day in the shade, but it makes for a much happier vacation.
It’s all about perspective. When it’s 82 degrees and sunny on a tropical island in the middle of winter, you don’t have much right to complain about things. Relax, change the things you can, and accept the things you can’t. And always remember that things don’t have to be some preconceived idea of perfect to still be good.