Aleteia

The surprising benefit of taking a vacation

SUMMER
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And it has nothing to do with relaxing and having a change of scenery.

Vacations have been tricky this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As many of us have been cooped up at home, the one thing everybody — particularly city dwellers — is hankering for is to get away, to get a change of scenery and breathe some fresh air.

However, somewhat cruelly, the one year we need a break, many have been trapped at home trying to make the most of a “staycation.” Some fortunate people did manage to get that beach holiday in, and shared their beautiful pics on social media. leaving others yearning to be splashing in that ocean. It’s been tough! But something strange happened to me recently that made me see holidays in a whole new light.

Since March I’ve been pretty much stuck in my local district in Paris, France. With no backyard and four kids, cabin fever was beginning to set in, badly. I longed for trees. I was desperate to see my parents and my many siblings who were just a two-and-a-half hour train ride away, but across the English Channel in my native England.

Thanks to quarantine restrictions, however, that was a no-go this summer. I tried to look on the bright side. We were all fit and healthy and the weather was nice. I’m exaggerating slightly … was a heatwave making it impossible to venture outside, and inside was an inferno as air conditioning isn’t the norm here in Europe. Anyway, it could have been worse.

Then my big brother saved the day. He was in the south of France and if the kids and I hopped in the car I could stay with him for a week. My head was spinning. My first thought was: “I get to see family!” followed by a little panic at driving eight hours on French motorways, and then with a little thrill of going somewhere I’d never been to before. It was a done deal.

The car was packed, the really scary drive a success (I’m certain it had something to do with a chance encounter with a group of pilgrims, who’d made a 500-mile trip from the south of France with a statue of the Blessed Virgin leading the way, just two hours before I got into the car), I got to hug my brother and before I knew it, the kids were cycling in the woods.

Over the following days we relaxed. We went on more bike rides. We jumped straight into the ocean, splashed around, then looked on with horror at the jellyfish as they made their way towards us (that put an end to further ocean swimming). We played cards and chatted. I braided my niece’s hair so she looked exactly like Elsa from Frozen — thankfully there were no mirrors. We ate ice cream after ice cream. It was a true vacation.

Yet, as wonderful as it was, after a few days I felt an urge to be back home. Back to the familiar. Back to the place that had protected me and my family during these crazy last months. It’s not that I didn’t love being away, and the break did us a lot of good. I think it’s just that I felt such gratitude for something I take for granted every single day — my cozy home.

While it’s not perfect, my home is an immense source of comfort from the outside world. It’s something to cherish and appreciate, as I know there are so many who don’t have the luxury of having a roof over their heads. Holidaying is not just about fun, adventures, and feeling restored. It’s a huge privilege, and so is the ability to come back home.

 

 

 

 

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