Christmas vacation just hadn’t felt like a vacation yet. Going here and there, shopping, cleaning, parties, all while trying to put work stresses out of my mind. And then Christmas morning started at 2:30 am. Yes, you read that right – 2:30 am. My oldest, I guess more excited than his past 8 Christmases, awoke at 2:30 am and attempted to wake us up to open presents. “Go back to bed,” we said. Which he did, but then he was up again 30 minutes later. This went on for I don’t know how long before he really fell back to sleep. It was still dark out when he came back in at 6 am to beg for presents. We held him off for 30 more minutes before we had to wake up the rest of our children. There were way too many squeals of delight for this tired mom at 6:30 am, but at least there was joy in the room . . . for a brief period of time. Delight gave way to desolation in just a few short hours as the oldest wanted one of his brother’s presents. After 30 minutes of screaming and crying, he finally settled down, and Christmas continued more peacefully.
If Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful day of the year, then you can imagine how the rest of Christmas break went for me. I was tired. I was sad. I was a little angry. Vacation was almost over, and it hadn’t really felt like a vacation.
With the daytime temperatures in the 60s, and our Midwest families under a blanket of snow, we decided the beach was the perfect place to celebrate our New Year’s Day. We stopped first at Patrick’s Salt Water Taffy in Bodega Bay to stock up on sweet treats for the day. Watermelon, mango, gingerbread, rum, and tropical fruit taffy wrappers soon lay on the floor of our car. And then as we sat in line to enter Doran Beach, I realized our idea to begin the new year on the coast wasn’t so novel. We nevertheless found a parking spot and spilled out of the car eager for the day ahead.
After only an hour of splashing in the water and digging in the sand, I had to change my daughter’s clothes already. Lunch was quickly devoured so as not to hinder the precious hours on the beach. My middle child declared he was going to find some new friends, and off he went down the beach. (Later, I discovered he had spent the afternoon with one of my husband’s colleagues. What a small world!) My husband and oldest threw the football. My daughter and I built a sand castle. And then they too wanted to play with new friends. So we struck up a conversation with another family of five.
As the wife and I talked, the conversation turned to spiritual matters. We shared about our family traditions and church experiences. She had just been telling her husband that she wanted to get back into her faith this year, and then she met me. I invited her to church with us. We continued laughing and talking as we watched our kids get even wetter and sandier.
When my family finally collapsed back in the car to head home, I realized my heart was revived. Jesus was at work to deepen his friendship with this woman. And through his love of her, he was at work to deepen his friendship with me. The one who made the oceans and the land had made our lives meet at the beach. The one who overcame death on a cross made me part of his plan to share his life with her. I went to the coast to gaze at the horizon over the water, but instead I got a glimpse of heaven at the beach. Now that is what a vacation is all about!
Go on another adventure with the author in Sneezes and Snuggles in Yosemite
Learn more about the author at Jenny Klouse