As a child, I was fortunate to be exposed to family vacations. The locations would change from year to year, but it was always a guarantee that at least once a year our entire family would get together. Sometimes we would take trips to the local beach, while others we would travel to Disney World, but as I got older, I could see the intention behind creating a week together as a family unit. It was a time for everyone to disconnect from their day-to-day routines and be present in one another’s lives in a more relaxed, less structured environment.

Now nearly two decades later, my family is still prioritizing these family trips. This past year we all gathered in a beautiful southern home in Isle of Palms, South Carolina. This location was unique as my parents and brother live in the area; however, having us all stay in a house together on this island allowed for us to create our own little oasis. There are some traditions to be as expected. For example, there is always “The Grocery Run”. This is a unique and somewhat complex process. We have the list, which for many of us is treated like the food bible of the week. Each person has an assigned role for this process. There are the list writers who are responsible for collecting who wants what; there are the shoppers; and there are the unloaders. Once this trip is complete and everything is put away, with of course everyone feeling confident that it was a success, two days later someone needs to go run out and “get a few things”. Although this is supposed to be a relaxed trip, there is always some form of structure to the point where as much as we tried not to plan every minute of every day, most of our time is accounted for. We have family day trips, or breakfast for 20 people, followed by beach days, and happy hours. When at the house, sports are on TV while my grandfather and uncles rest their eyes in the same position (relaxed posture, ankles crossed, hands interlocked across their stomach), while my mom, grandmother, and aunts scroll through their iPad or books. The kids play board games or card games as we are all extremely competitive and take our game playing very seriously.

What I have seen over the years is that regardless of the location, the trip’s intention is always the same: family time. Sharing the same roof all together for a short period of time causes all of us to take our individual routines, sleeping preferences, and daily schedules and throw it out the window. Instead, we work as one unit, learning and seeing how interacting as a pack helps inspire our individual authenticity. ~ Nicole