The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Last Holiday

[A snowman we built our first day in Ruidoso, which appropriated my hat and glasses]

We have just returned from what could be our last family vacation, or holiday, as Suzanne calls it. It is a time in my life where I have begun making lists of things I will and will not do in this life. Ski again – yes; learn to snowboard – no. Making lists seems odd for several reasons, but the fact that I am informally making these lists shows that I am cognizant that at some level that this life does end, that the time I have left is less than the time I have already lived, and knowing that there is a fear, or at least a healthy respect for not injuring myself, again. (read: green slopes).

This family holiday, was a gift from St. Phillips UMC, where a new appointment for me began January 1, but I was allowed the grace to start a week later so we could holiday. Thank you!

[Anna, Fox & Grace at Ski Apache]

Maybe I have a tighter definition of family holiday than necessary, but I have defined it as an extended trip with our three kids, driving in one vehicle, staying together in one place, and sharing the same experiences, activities and food. Some might call this a laboratory of human suffering[1], but I see it harkening back to the vacations we took with our kids before they were old enough to object.

[Steve & Suzanne on the drive up]:

This time we went skiing/snowboarding in New Mexico. Skiing is something Suzanne brought into our marriage, a gift she taught me the first winter we were married when we went visiting her half brother Mick in Denver. Every other year since we have gone to the mountains, sometimes with friends (Kim and Austin), her brother (Reg and Julie), our Sunday School class (The Genesis Class at University United Methodist Church), and in later years just as a family on holiday.

As a kid I can’t remember the last vacation we took as a family when my folks, Rod, Beth, Sheron and I would have loaded up in our white 1960s Chevy Biscayne and drove all night to Kansas. When it was happening, I wonder if my parents knew it would be our last time? Another thing I can’t recall is ever taking a family vacation that didn’t involve visiting family, or attending Dad’s professional convention, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, or ASAE as we called it. Just saying the letters ASAE brings to mind exotic places, and face it when you’ve been raised in Iowa, even Duluth seems exotic. This too was a gift from Suzanne, the notion that a family holiday could be the sole reason for a vacation.

[A Chevy Biscayne station wagon, our family car growing up]:

I am guessing that last family trip together would have been the summer of 1968, a year after my brother started at Iowa State, and right before the rest of my family went overseas for a year. When we came back, it was my sister Beth’s turn for Iowa State and now with two siblings in college, I don't think the folks were able to get us together for a family vacation. There were trips with my folks after that summer, ASAE conventions in San Francisco, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Davis, California and other exotic places I can’t remember, but mostly I think of Kansas and visiting the Jagger and Buchele farmsteads and, at least at the Jagger farm, playing with dangerous fireworks (which were illegal in Iowa), and reading through the largest collection of comic books ever seen.

[Fox, Grace and Anna, on the way up]

Which is why I was so determined to remember this family holiday because in all likelihood, it will be our last. We are entering a season of launching, of losing our children to the young adults they are becoming, of watching them define themselves, or at least defining who they are not, and it feels sometimes like that who they are not, is to be part of this family. I remember that stage, and how gracious my family was during it, so I don’t take it personally, but will treasure this last family holiday.

It was wonderful, and at the same time bittersweet, seeing us all laughing together, eating long family dinners, watching Suzanne's intercultural movie picks and making fun of them, skiing or snowboarding the slopes and just enjoying intense family time. It was good. Not to get all theological, but I can’t help thinking that this must be what it is like for God too, when God sees his children playing together nicely, laughing, having fun, enjoying each other’s company and experiencing the wonder that is this creation. It was my prayer this past week riding up the ski lift, thanking God for the beauty of these mountains, trees and for this time set apart to remember what it is like to be family.

[Mountains of Ski Apache]

[1] Term stolen from Bishop Joe Wilson, when he described family vacations in their RV, when their kids were growing up.


Blogger Barbara Boucher Owens said...

It probably won't be your last. We had such a family holiday this Christmas when on Christmas day, my husband, both our girls, their spouses and my grand kids went to Colorado and celebrated with my brother, and tons of cousins, step-cousins ,etc. for a 6 day long intermingling of generations and family. Dinners usually included about 22 folks, ski groups ranged from 5 to 12 and snow shoe groups were about 4.

Families are a gift from God.

8:53 PM, January 10, 2010  
Blogger Steve and Suzanne Buchele said...

Thanks Barbara. You're right it won't be the last, but the ones that follow will be different.

And to NOBODY thanks!


1:46 PM, January 28, 2010  

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