My friend greeted me one fair morning with the cheering news, "We'll soon be leaving for our vacation. We can hardly wait for next Monday. The children are all keyed up for it." I listened with interest to plans for the family trip, which would include a visit to all the grandparents. Vacations were not the order of the day with this busy group, but good planning, even for a holiday, was their pattern. Our little chat has given me an inspiration to discuss vacations with our shepherdesses. A worker's family provides a good setting for a treatise on such an exhilarating topic.
All workers should be encouraged to take an annual vacation. Those more recently out of college are already vacation-conscious. Having set up their own home, they want to get back to visit their parents, taking in a few special friends on the way. And the more weathered workers need this period of relaxation away from office, telephone, church duties, visiting the sick, and whatever else is included in the busy worker's daily schedule. The man of the past who would declare in martyr tones, "I never take a vacation!" has ceased to fit into our thinking. The diligent worker deserves and needs a vacation. Jesus' example in dealing with His disciples justifies this declaration (Mark 6: 31). Of course all workers plan for their vacations in season, cooperating with the plans of their employing organization.
Planning a vacation for the family is just another organized procedure-.-a part of the responsibility to which a denominational worker must give attention. Usually his wife and children are his best counselors; and with the return of the bluebirds and robins, the family's vacation may become good table talk. By the end of the school year the vacation issue will become more urgent. Some of this planning may need to be around the conference camp meeting, and the JMV Summer Camp may well have some influence on the direction of the vacation trip.
In planning a vacation the minister must consider some factors that enter into his professional calling. The ministerial family cannot just pick up and go when they want to and where they would like to. The minister is a servant of the people and will need to plan for emergencies and make certain that his sheep will be properly cared for during his absence.
In the case of a younger couple, their budget may not match their daydreams. When thousands of miles lie between them and their parental homes, rare vacations may have to satisfy the wife's homesickness. But these are not hardships to the consecrated worker. He and his wife considered all this when they were called into the ministry. They know it is done for Christ's sake. The shepherdess will surely refrain from referring to such experiences in terms of sacrifice. She will balance her lot with her unusual blessings in her Master's service.
Encouraging the Home Folks
The family vacation planned around a visit to the home folks, after years of parental sacrifice to educate a son or daughter for God's work, may become the happiest occasion of the year. Grandparents often fill their days talking about their grandchildren's interesting ways, learned about through letters. The annual visit of their children to the old homestead is an event dreams make very real. The days of the visit pass all too soon—and then the aging parents must again sit back with their memories. Each member of the ministerial family must fill these rare days with sunshine and Christian cheer. Laughter, music in the heart and from the lips, kind attentions to one another, especially to the grandparents, will be rewarding. The family worship circle will be enlarged and solemnized. What a golden opportunity to talk together about the realities of eternity.
While the vacation trip may have been planned mainly for visiting the home folks, other sight-seeing interests may be enjoyed. Children should become acquainted with the history and lore of their country and learn to develop a love for fellow believers in churches that may be visited on the way. But the planning of a too-crowded daily schedule tends to spoil a vacation trip. There should be time for family play and for some daydreaming in relaxed mood while en route. Experience teaches that it is a wise plan to tuck a few good books into the family auto while packing for the trip, also some simple games, sensible garments, and comfortable shoes.
Sabbath apparel should not be overlooked while making our preparations. While vacation clothes may allow for sunshine and fresh air, our Sabbath dress should be dignified, modest, and appropriate. Children should be helped by their parents' example. When not worshiping with fellow Christians, time should be set aside for conducting a group Sabbath school. Arrangements for a little service of this nature may become a most interesting assignment for the children of the family. These vacation Sabbaths may become a stimulating memory. We can worship God in His great outdoor sanctuary as well as in a church edifice.
Behavior on Vacation
The family's outdoor meals become one of the high points of anticipation. A quiet, shady spot where the contents of the family lunch basket can be spread out attractively and with grace adds joy to the outing. Appetites will be keen and younger children may become a little impatient to get started. Too often a vacation trip brings a letdown in good manners. It is better for the children to help mother and father get the food in readiness so that all may sit down together as a family group and enjoy the repast. We have all been made conscious of the "litter bug" at picnic areas. Big brother's help may be enlisted to serve as captain of the cleaning-up squad so that such odium will not be attached to loyal citizens.
End of a Delightful Vacation
"Home, Sweet Home!" Father strikes up the tune and mother joins him enthusiastically. Everything about the place seems to have taken on a new luster. The children, who have been dragging boxes and suitcases, coats and sweaters, into the house, join in the frolic. Big daughter gives mother a bear hug and teases her about her sun tan. Bert informs the group that he has gained three pounds on this holiday. Mary's sense of humor inspires her to recount a few of the funny incidents of the trip—stories she will relate to her girl friends. It is soon time to retire, and lullabies are entirely unnecessary. But we should mention that prayers at worship that evening express gratitude for a delightful vacation and for safe travel.
A well-spent vacation has a mellowing overtone. Irritations of the past are forgotten and new ideas have expanded the family's horizon. Its invigorating influence has produced clearer thinking and stability for handling the daily problems. So plan well for your vacation and catch the pleasure of anticipating it for a while before it comes. Then enjoy to the fullest every moment of it, and let its memory linger as a peaceful benediction after a glorious sunset.
Discussing the Vacation
- Ideas for family devotions while on vacation.
- Plan a sensible vacation wardrobe.
- Give attention to simple and wholesome vacation meals.
- An opportunity to make others happy.
- How to relax and play with the family.
- How to take a vacation when the family budget does not allow it.
A Feature (ten minutes)
Let some shepherdess briefly relate the high points of a vacation trip. This may be an illustrated talk.