Recently we took our little tribe on vacation out of state. Vacations are essential in every family. Essential. As in, not optional. I have heard it said that a minimum of seven days is best. I say five works and eases the budget. No matter how long we go there is something that takes place every time. We wait for it with anticipation. Will it happen this time? Is it coming? Day four there it is. A calm comes over the family. As a rule, we enjoy each other on a regular basis. We really do. I sometimes wonder if we really did get the five most entertaining children in the world or if it's that my husband and I are just easily entertained. Regardless we get a lot of enjoyment from our kids. But this is something different that takes place. It's getting past the first few days of "Dad she won't move over." and "Are we there yet?" and "Don't sing so loud Mom!". We are sharing all of the same experiences, seeing the same things, eating the same food and breathing the same air. There is a transition from co-existing to truly appreciating each other flaws and all. I highly recommend vacations. They don't have to be expensive and you don't even need to travel somewhere. Sometimes my husband takes time off and we just stay home. The whole family ventures out to get groceries together, play games, watch movies, or work on projects, do the chores. It's the extended time together, not the actual activity.
On this particular vacation, we started out with my husband's company asking him to work in a neighboring city to where we were going for one day. We reserved a room at a hotel close by the night before so the kids and I could relax while he worked. When we left to take him to work there was quite a crowd of people checking in. This crowd immediately caught the eyes of my children for more than one reason. There were more than one hundred people I would guess, which can be daunting by itself. But this was not the attraction. Every single person in the crowd was black. Beautiful black skin with more cornrows and new hairstyles than they had ever seen. Two of my children were fascinated, all of these people looked like they did! It was as if they didn't know whether to be excited or worried as to why they were all in the same place at the same time. Never have they ever seen so many black people in one place than when they were home in Africa. My oldest son leaned over and said "Why are all these black people here?" My oldest daughter whispered, "Maybe they are having a party." The slightly sarcastic part of me wanted to say, "Yes honey, all of the black people are having a party." I thought better of it and held my tongue. This was serious business to them. As it turns out there was a Praise Explosion Celebration at a neighboring convention center that evening. As the morning wore on, more and more black people checked into the hotel. When passing them in the hall or on the elevator these strangers would look past the rest of us and greet my Liberian children. My children have entrance to a culture I know little about. I have no idea what it must be like to live every day of my life amongst people who look nothing like me. It's not like my children are completely sheltered and never see any other black people. But everywhere we go, there is a sea of reminders that they are different than most people we meet. I suppose it's an example of what our lives as Christians are. We have our beliefs, our traditions, our christianese, trite as it may be. We go out into the world everyday where many have no idea why we do what we do, why we live like we live. It's a different culture than mine, the world. I am a visitor in a foreign land. This is not my home. Do I feel different? Sometimes. But can anyone else tell? It's not like it is with my children, where you look at them and know right away that they are not from here. It's easy to blend in. Can my neighbors tell? Is my life different enough to make a difference?