I've never had the conventional family. You know - mom, dad, siblings, etc. I'm lucky enough to have been blessed with a lot of extended family and friends, who have filled my world with love and joy and a whole lot of entertainment over the years. I'd do anything for any of them.
Except join them on vacation.
I have a long-standing rule that family should be experienced in small doses. I don't believe that out-of-town family should stay in your home. In an emergency, they can crash on a sofa or air-mattress, but under no circumstances should they be made to feel so comfortable that they want to stay for several days.
When I was married, my father and cousin tried, more than once, to get my ex and I to go on their family vacation to Las Vegas. My ex thought this was a great idea. "Oh, it'll be fun!" I heard over and over. "Oh, don't you want to spend time with them?" he would ask.
No. I don't.
Here's the thing.... Family is like fish. After three days, you either have to cook them, or throw them out. If they hang around too long - they permeate the air. It's not one big thing - it's a bunch of ongoing, little things that eat at you until you feel like they have filled up the place and surrounded you. Like a lingering smell that you know is there, but you can't quite figure out what it is.
Last week, I went away with my best friend and her two kids. I adore her, and I adore them. More than life itself, actually. I was so excited when we made our plans (several months ago) that I didn't think things all the way through. If I had, I probably would have realized that her parents, sister, niece, etc. would also want to join us. My friend comes from a very tight-knit family, and they have always vacationed together.
Turns out, I broke my #1 rule - I vacationed with a family.
When you're away, especially if you're sharing living space, things like bathroom schedules, money, discipline (if you're with children), noise, when to wake up/go to bed all come in to play. It should be simple to divide up money for the condo or groceries, or not to disturb others by making too much noise - but sometimes, people just don't agree on those things. By themselves - not a big deal. But when it's one on top of another on top of another....it's too much.
If you're with a close family, they sometimes believe that the closeness comes from proximity - and they will sacrifice everything else, up to and including everyone's sanity, to maintain that "closeness." But that leads to a lot of stress, hurt feelings and aggravation. I can get that at work - I go on vacation to escape those things.
Does this mean I don't love my family (or my extended family)? Absolutely not.
It just means that next year, I'll be waiting for their postcard.