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But you like to be with my family!

If I had a British pound for every time that was said regarding the annual extended family vacation, I would have less than what I had a month ago…but that’s another story.

_DSC3743 (2)The annual extended family vacation. I’m not talking about the vacation where you and your spouse plan to go to a new and different place every year with your children. That activity has its own stresses and issues, but is usually a healthy activity for those involved. What I’m talking about is when one person or one family decides to go to the same place every year, and others are expected to join them.

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Often it starts with a family having a traditional summer vacation to the same place with their children, but as the children become adults, they may stop going on the annual vacation.

However, after they marry and begin their own families, they are invited to rejoin the annual family vacation, with an expectation that the spouses will become part of their annual pilgrimage. For a few years it may be a fun event, something to look forward to each summer, but then the event becomes more important than any other vacation that doesn’t involve the extended family. Vacations become determined by bloodlines, not along family lines.

Alternate vacation ideas, or visits to relatives that aren’t of the bloodline of the family of origin become a lower priority. Everyone is expected to preserve and protect the big event. After so many times of going to the same place with another family, or families, one may begin to feel that they’re tagging along on someone else’s vacation. Once in the situation, you can only be the bad person if you refuse to go.

There are always great reasons for extended families to get together occasionally. It is an opportunity to reclaim family ties, and share time together. Going for a week or more on trip with a group of people can be fun; however, committing two or more families to an annual vacation, to the destination determined by one family says something about the nature of the relationship of one family over another. 

However, vacations that are determined by one family, or one side of the family, year after year after year, are about control. At some point an adult child has to decide whether their commitment is to their family of origin, or to their own family.