Seven Tips for Memorable Holidays

On holiday, I’ve always been a fan of what I describe as ‘memory creation’. In other words, holidays aren’t simply about having a good time; they’re about remembering that you had a good time. Night time walks with torches, cooking a BBQ on the beach, camping out in the woods and that sort of thing.

In our house, holidays are my domain. I organise them and stress the details. The rest of the family appreciate the effort I put into it. I always seek their input. Like that helps minimise the options! But Rosslyn especially loves that this is one less thing that she has to think about.

Simon Radomski, our Conrhill Training Course placement, sent me a very short article [it’s a page of A4] in which C.J. Mahaney makes seven recommendations for memorable vacations. Essentially he’s saying that the Father needs to take responsibility for leading his family, even when he’s on holiday.Here are his seven with additional comments from me.

1. Holidays are an opportunity for the Father to serve his family. We’re tempted to think that holidays represent ‘down’ time. And they do, in a sense. The routine is not the same as it is normally. If our job requires us to work hard and work long then holidays are like an oasis. We need them to recuperate. We desperately want to put our feet up, pick up a book and recharge the batteries. And that’s perfectly understandable. But in many ways we may need to work harder than we do at our workplace. Our families are looking to us to give them a great holiday and that won’t happen if we emotionally ‘check out’. We need to take a lead and provide direction.

2. Holidays are an opportunity to develop character. Our kids need to see us modelling godly character. The location for our holiday, the standard of our accommodation, the facilities that are on offer may create an impression. But if we’re a miserable toerag, moody, short tempered, disengaged and proccupied that’s what they’ll remember. One way or another we’ll leave a legacy in our kids minds of our behaviour on hliday. We need to have a terrific holiday and find joy in relating to our wife and our kids. Holidays are an opportunity for us to demonstrate our love for our family so that it’s felt.

3. Holidays are an opportunity for indwelling sin. Our sinful nature doesn’t take a vacation. We’d be wise to know ourselves, be honest about our particular weaknesses and put things in place to avoid falling prey to temptation. We’re not simply talking about controlling our thought life when faced with scantily clad attractive young women, thugh we are talking about that. Unless we’re on a ski-ing holiday. But we’re also talking abou excessive drinking and laziness with regard to our spiritual disciplines of prayer and bible study.

4. Holidays are an opportunity to study your family. It’s worth finding out before you go away on holiday what the different members of your family are looking forward to and what they’d like to do. That’s not always straightforward; asking a three year old what they want to do on holiday may not be the best course of action. You could get some interesting answers! But you get some helpful responses from a seven year old that are worth listening to. I remember asking Rosslyn what she most looked forward to in a holidayand she said, ‘a bit of luxury’. So I bought her a camp bed for the tent! I’m not sure that’s what she was after! She really appreciates it when she doesn’t have to do the things that she normally does at home;  cooking, washing up, laundry. And so she love it when I cook. However, there’s only so much pasta that she can take and so after a few days she volunteers to take up teh reins once again!

5. Holidays are an opportunity to surprise your family. Plan ahead and work out what would be a real treat for the different members of your family. That could be buying a few small presents beforehand. It could mean planning a special meal whilst you’re away. Just find something that’ll create a memory to be treasured. We’ve developed a tradition of buying one another books at Easter instead of eggs so that we’ve got something excitingto open aup and read whilst we’re away.

6. Holidays are an opportunity to develop relationships. They’re family holidays after all, therefore reinforcing relationships with the different family members has to be a key component of your time away. There’ll be an opportunity to pursue selfish pursuits but that can’t be dominant rationale for going away. Rufus and I enjoyed many an enjoyable moment on the golf course on our last holiday but more important was the family Easter Egg hunt where he helped his younger brother and sister find all the eggs that the Easter bunny had hidden. Just for the record, they weren’t persuauded by the Easter bunny story that Daddy made up.

7. Holidays are an opportunity to express our gratitude to God. Holidays are a gift from God. We can help our families see and appreciate God’s generosty each day. We try and have an extended ‘Bible story’ each day and allow time for more questions and reflection. This year we may take some Bible related activities because there’s more time than we have when school’s on. We’d be wise not to overlook the spiritual opportunities there are for ‘personal work’ with our children; lying on the grass staring up at the clouds and talking about school can provide opportunities to chat, probe, reflect and pray together. Those moments are priceless.

Mahaney says that ‘the difference between forgettable vacations and unforgettable vacations is not the location or attractions. The difference is the Father’s attitude and leadership’. I couldn’t agree more. And I’m minded to get it right this summer.

6 thoughts on “Seven Tips for Memorable Holidays

  1. neilrobbie July 4, 2009 / 7:35 pm

    Thanks Perks, really useful.

    I believe that if I need to take a holiday at the end of a frantic year because I’ve worked too hard that I’m putting too much store in the holiday as the place where my family get a bit of quality time with dad.

    I need to pace myself over the year, build surprises into the year and not be so whacked at the start of the holiday that it takes two weeks for me to unwind and stop being grumpy.

    I’ll print out a copy of this post and put it in the holiday file.


    • theurbanpastor July 8, 2009 / 5:34 pm

      Thanks Neil. I agree. But you’ll know that in church ministry things crowd in and ‘ruin’ a week with the family. Prep deosn’t go well, there are unexpected sin and sickness issues and so on. Because these things happen, we make sure that at the end of every term we’ve got a holiday. This just means that if we have a demanding term we can at least ‘catch up’ with one another after a couple on months. It’s like a holiday failsafe!
      ‘The holiday file’ what’s that, Neil? I have the holiday ‘scraps of paper’. Are they the same thing?

  2. Tom Stanbury July 8, 2009 / 5:08 pm

    The good thing about the tips with some necessary adaptions they can apply to any single christian.

  3. theurbanpastor July 8, 2009 / 5:29 pm

    Cheers Tom, I was aware that they were bit family-tastic. If I get time I’ll wonder how I could tweak it. But do leave me your thoughts to make my job easier!

  4. Tom Stanbury July 13, 2009 / 5:44 pm

    Do you know what not sure I would change the headings just some subtle adaptions to the meaning. This is partly because I am too lazy to think for myself but also because they are God and other people centred.

    1) Holidays are an opportunity to serve. ie not yet a dad but the hols don’t need to be all about me. Could I serve someone, somehow with my time off from work. So doesn’t necessarily mean a mission trip, I am reluctant to say more as will be different for us all. My advice would be different to someone in their 20’s to say a 35 year old.

    2) here here

    3) here here possibly even more so for the singleton.

    4 & 5) family, you could indignantly say ‘but I don’t have one’ Really, grandparents, mum, dad, aunties, uncles, brother, sisters, cousins. So won’t necessarily go on holiday with them all but can give them your time and throw them a surprise or two.

    If you are single you have more time for your family in a way your married siblings don’t. Are they christians? do you have specfic prayers for them? what are their needs? do any of them need help with a task at home? what are they worried/anxious about? do any of them need any money? what do their children need?
    What would would be a really nice/kind surprise for one of them?
    This is less about holidays but more about how you are using your time, energy and resources outside of work.

    And if you are low on blood relatives in number then there is always the church family which all of the above applies to, this leads nicely into point 6.

    6) This is the important one for a single person. I think self pity comes more easily for the single in their 30’s (Er me). But don’t let it sucker you, it is ugly and doesn’t honour Jesus. The self pity I am talking about is the ‘but I don’t have a relationship’. Self pity in this respect is blind to all the good relationships you do have with your family, within church and wider life.
    As humans we need to have relationships and need christian ones to keep going in the christian life. People will never know you if you never spend any time with them.

    And you never know if you go away with a gang of guys and girls, you never what might blossom out of the walk on the beach or the conversation on the chair lift, if you know what I mean.

    7) Amen. Plenty of time for ‘bible related activities’!

    For the record not mastered any of the above, but good to have some goals and aims for our holidays.

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