This is the first time in years that we have, by this time, still made no definite plans to go away for the holidays. But Mo is however still determined to ensure that we go somewhere- even if it's just somewhere nearby; even just for a few days.
So I've been observing him poring over websites and advertisements, stressing about which places have the best amenities and more importantly, which have the most varied activities for the kids.
It's not that I think the kids will not enjoy quadbiking, pony rides, fishing etc. It's just that I don't think that they really need it in order to have an amazing time.
Growing up, we went to the same holiday resort every single year. Both my brother and I got to take a friend/cousin to keep us company. The place we went to was nice enough- we stayed in a two-bedroomed little house, which had all the basic amenities. There were tennis courts, swimming pools and there was a games room, which had badmington and table tennis.
My family made full use of these facilities- my dad, brother and I would swim laps daily and my parents became extremely competitive against each other on the tennis courts. But it was playing table tennis that the entire family enjoyed the most; and in which each one believed that he/she out-performed the other.
We really didn't need more than that to derive the ultimate enjoyment and pleasure from our holidays.
One year my dad decided to take us to a more expensive seaside resort. This place boasted luxurious accomodation, numerous pools, gym, fancy restaurants, squash courts, etc. But because it was more expensive than our usual holiday destination, we were unable to take along our friend/cousin as a companion. The atmosphere was also very different to our usual holiday destination; and we did not really spend much time together enjoying shared family activities.
I was absolutely miserable the entire time.
Looking back I realise that one of the reasons was that I had no one my age with whom to share all this. The varied selection of activities on offer meant that we actually ended up not doing much together- my brother preferred to play squash, while I preferred to gym.
Our usual holiday destination, although much cheaper, had served its purpose more than adequately- it had provided us with the activities in which we had all loved to participate; in an environment which we found comfortable and welcoming.
In addition, we had met so many wonderful friends. Every year was a bittersweet experience- as we would make new friends, with whom we'd promise to keep in touch, but whom we knew we would very possibly never see again.
My kids are even more easily satisfied than what I was. We too have been holidaying at the same place for the past few years. Our accomodation usually depended on our budget for that trip. There's usually the fairly luxurious flat with a shared heated pool for residents of those flats- for when the budget allowed. Otherwise a cheaper tiny rondawel/hut more than served its purpose (shielding us from the elements, place to sleep, place to dump our bags, have our meals and have our family bickering in private).
Never has the fact that we were housed in the smaller, less fancy accomodation in any way lessened the kids' enjoyment of their holiday. In fact, I'd say being forced outdoors added to the fun. The rondawels are situated on green slopes; their degree of lushness being dependent on the time of year. Since there is not much space to laze around in the tiny rondawels, the kids have often found themselves spending many pleasurable hours chasing guinea fowl, dodging termite mounds, admiring various other species of birds and inspecting the white-shelled snails.
Thanks to Shakeel's extremely fertile imagination, he- on more than one occasion- has managed to convince his sisters to help him to look for snakes, which he is convinced are lurking beneath each rock.
The kids, who love animals, also spend much of their time playing with and feeding the stray cats, which means that very soon we are usually feeding an entire colony of these strays.
I think that whether we get to go on some adventurous getaway or not- the kids will enjoy themselves by virtue of the fact that they have each others' company. They bicker and fight constantly, and I have already, much to their amusement, lost track of all the punishment I have meted out to each one respectively, because of their constant fighting. They nag often, about being hungry, about being bored etc etc.
But it's playing together wherever they find themselves, that they enjoy the most. Whether we are out on holiday or simply at home, they usually find activities to keep themselves occupied.
They have just emerged from a time-out, which followed a massive argument over whose chores had been easiest- and it's as if their earlier fight had never happened. They are currently in the kitchen making popcorn together- and laughing themselves silly at something stupid. Although another argument is very likely to ensue soon- about who generated the most mess during the popcorn-making and who is therefore responsible for the most cleaning, one can be sure that they will bounce back from that too- just to find another activity to keep them occupied and happy.
So I'm not really too panicked about finding the perfect place to spend the holiday. Because their pleasure and happiness this holiday has very little to do with how fancy their surroundings, how varied the activities on offer, and how lavish the holiday accommodation- and more to do with those with whom they are spending it.
And now that I hear the next argument starting, I must admit that a lovely private getaway-for-one seems like a fabulous idea.