True Gifts

The summer vacation I had planned and saved for finally arrived. This was a year-long planning and saving adventure, so to say I was excited doesn’t even come close to the emotions I had as the day arrived to leave. My three had never flown on a plane, much less gazed upon a mountain. The only places they had seen were Austin, Dallas and Galveston. My oldest was ten so to say this was a HUGE adventure, again, does not even broach the subject. In fact, my oldest asked if Colorado used the same currency as Texas. To them, this was the other side of the world. Their brains could not fathom something different and I knew, from experience, that this trip would completely rock their world. And it didn’t disappoint, it did just that.

Going through security is what worried my three the most. I’m sure it was my insistence on checking each bag and backpack to make sure we didn’t have anything “questionable”. This would be my first time to travel without checking luggage and I knew with a backpack and suitcase each we may hold up the line. Fortunately, we flew out of Hobby and the security officers there were not only friendly, they were downright helpful. One doesn’t happen upon that often at an airport, so I saw it for what it was… a gift from our Father to help us on our journey.

As we boarded the plane so many thoughts were running through my mind. First, was I crazy to take three children on a vacation by myself? Would they bother anyone on the plane? Would they be respectful of others? Crazy, I know, but I worry about those things. The worry was masked by the thrill of the adventure and knowing what my children would be seeing very soon. A place that brings me peace and wonder and joy. A place that not only has memories that haunt me but also memories of healing and friendship and contentment.

As the plane took off my son giggled and said, “MawMaw stop tickling my tummy!” I laughed aloud. My mom is infamous for tickling her grandkids’ “buttons” (belly button). Taking off tickled his stomach and he related it to something he knew. I loved it. I also loved watching their eyes as the plane’s wheels gently lifted up and we began to climb above the clouds. The whole experience was somewhat magical. Something you’d see on a sappy Hallmark-ish airline commercial. But it was real and I loved every second.

Before the trip, I had taken a trip to Walmart to pick up a few surprises for the plane ride… Playdoh, small Lego sets, snacks, and an activity pad for each, planning to keep them busy so they wouldn’t get restless. As you know, a restless child on a plane is no picnic for the parent nor those who happen to be sharing the experience. I could not have been more proud of my children. They kept themselves busy with their activities. No kicking the backs of the seats, no talking loudly, and no fighting or complaining. Basically, they respected each other and those around them and I was proud. Their first plane ride was a success and they were actually disappointed when we arrived, as they wanted to stay on longer.

Our week was filled with all kinds of “firsts” for my children. First time to: see a mountain, climb/hike a mountain, survive a storm on top of a mountain, go sledding, ride a “real” train, pan for gold, go inside a gold mine, make a snowman family, see real dinosaur tracks, eat BeauJo’s pizza, eat breakfast outside on a patio (yeah, I know… but our mornings are never leisurely so this was a treat), wear a snowsuit, see a waterfall firework (that was a first for me as well… and it was amazing), see a waterwheel, see a waterfall, and taste an Italian soda.

Several times over the course of the vacation each of my children, independently, thanked me for taking them on the vacation. It was the emotion and attitude of the thank you that took me by surprise. They were speaking honestly from their hearts which was evident in their speech and eyes. Each thank you was a beautiful gift to my heart. Gifts I will treasure. Those things no one else can truly appreciate, as they do not know the sacrifice behind it, nor can they ever take it away from you. I call them true gifts. Nothing monetary. Not given with an expectation for a return of any kind. Just a true, selfless gift. I’m sure my children did not even realize what they’d given me, but I did.