ON VACATION I didn’t give much thought to where we might go in Germany and Switzerland.
Both of those countries are beautiful, so I figured it would be hard to go wrong wherever we went. So when our group was putting together an itinerary, I was pretty much the silent partner.
It was hard for me to get excited about where we were going when I was so worked up about who we were going with.
For one, I was going on a two-week European vacation with my wife, my son, and his wife. Those are three of my favorite people. How many parents get to go on vacation with their adult children? How many adult kids would want their parents to go with them? If I were a dog, you could call me Lucky.
For another thing, we were going to see my German son. That’s how I think of the exchange student who stayed with us about 10 years ago. Hannes along with his mother and father and brother, are four more of my favorite people on this planet.
We met Hannes’ parents and brother several years ago when we spent three weeks with them in Germany. If you missed yesterday’s blog about them, here’s the link: Hospitality – Made in Germany.
Hannes’ mom, Cornelia, was the driving force behind the itinerary. That’s because she and her husband Günter were going to host our visit.
The lengthy itinerary included an afternoon birthday party for one of the friends of Cornelia and Günter. I know, that sounds boring. But birthday parties in Germany aren’t at all like birthday parties in the United States.
This was the birthday party for a man turning 60. He threw the party for himself. Not unusual in Germany.
The man enjoys walking in the woods, so his birthday party started with us walking in the woods.
We walked to a cave, where a tour guide took us inside and told us what we were looking at. He spoke in German, but Cornelia and Günter translated.
Then it was off to a restaurant where he treated all of us to a wonderful German meal and fellowship that stretched for hours. It included the group serenading the birthday boy with songs he enjoyed. I’ve got some of that on video. It may be headed to YouTube one of these days.
I’m so glad I didn’t nix that from the itinerary.
When I had reviewed the itinerary Cornelia sent me, I made a few notes about questions she raised. But in my closing paragraph I said that whatever we do and wherever we go, the highlight of the trip will be getting to spend a little time with them.
She dittoed: “For us everything is fine – and as you wrote, being together with you anyway is the most important highlight.”
Vacations and vacation planning are often stressful. I know it has been for me in past years. My wife and kids would testify to that. (Kids, resist the temptation to leave a note in a comment box.)
I’m a slow learner, but I think I’m beginning to absorb the lesson that what’s most important about a vacation is not where we go or how we get there.
What’s most important is who goes with us.
The scenery that’s most important isn’t the scenery at a distance. It’s the scenery sitting right beside us.
I’ll try to remember that next time I’m feeling stressed out by vacation plans.
I’ll try to remember these words, too:
“Put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes…Be gentle and patient. Put up with each other. Forgive the things you are holding against one another….And over all of those good things put on love” (Colossians 3:12-14 NIRV).