While some of the luckier ones amongst us go to exotic places for their vacation, the majority spend fortunes to be reunited with loved ones in the home country followed by what is known as showing off the family to the greater family on both sides. Since, by some strange chemistry, male chauvinism kicks in and the time is divided between his greater and her greater family on a sort of 80/20 basis what smarter husbands do is ensure that wife goes home a couple of weeks earlier and runs through her obligations so that by the time he fetches up after two weeks of golf and tennis and some man to man get togethers she can join him in his family circle and he needn't have to bother with hers. Anyway, who said life is fair and about two weeks of unremitting "his side of it" dinners and meetings in which wife and kids are sized up and commented upon and husband/father is indulged in and told how tired and stressed he is looking, the wife is up to "here" with it all. So are the kids who threaten to shoot themselves if they have to spend one more minute with some horrendous cousin they couldn't care less about and have had enough of "be nice, it's only for a few days" or "make a good impression, never mind why, just try."
What do they do. Count slowly to ten and wait for the holiday to unravel to an end, its path strewn with the debris of a thousand misunderstandings, secretly nursed grievances, unpopular gifts that failed to make the grade, forced hospitality and affection that gush like lava but are cold as the poles.
Most of them do just that. But a few go clever. Like these friends of ours who announced their day of arrival three days earlier than the day of the bookings then were driven in ceremony to the airport where they bid farewell to all their loved ones and stuff and the kids hugged their ghastly cousins and promised to email regularly (you have to be kidding) and then with a flurry of waves and then disappeared into the terminal.
They sat there for half an hour then rolled out of the building and into a waiting car from a hotel resort just outside the city.
There they drove in style and settled down for three nights of good fun and no relatives to please and no dinners to attend and no mandatory lectures on how to run their lives or explain why they are not coming back to the home country yet and aren't the children being turned into aliens.
Naturally, it was a bit of a risk because the odds are that they would have been spotted but that was part of the excitement. They even went into town one day and shopped and thanks to the roaming mobile were able to indicate that they had landed safely and were back in town.
Not that I recommend this slipping away because most of us would get caught out on the first day, some flipping aunt or uncle or friend of an aunt or uncle would fetch up at that very resort into the very lift you were taking and the odds are that they would be the one's whose dinner you refused because you were leaving the country on that night.
But, sometimes, it does seem we get into this guilt rut about getting away from it all and just having the inner family holiday by themselves. There is always that need to explain why we are having a vacation or why it is no reflection on staying in the town and meeting everyone...isn't that what you have come for, to meet everyone.
Yes, but we need a break, too.
You might feel that way but not many of us actually summon up enough gumption to say, okay we are off to Goa for a week, just the five of us, because someone will get hurt or feel you don't want to be with them and then you'll fold up your plans and start getting ready for the next drove of relatives...in a line that never ends....