So many of you have remarked how “lucky” the three sisters in my family are that we have regular get-togethers (at least once a year), without kids and without spouses. I do feel the need to tell you how this came to be, why it works, and why fostering relationships with family is so important to me.
When I was in my late 30’s, my mom died. All of us were shocked, upset and fearful that we would drift apart since get-togethers at my parents’ house wouldn’t happen without her. My dad, who was THE BEST father we could ever imagine, was not a cook or one to organize gatherings at all. Fast forward a couple of years when I had my 40th birthday…my sisters and I decided to meet in San Francisco near where Susan lives. She drove her car, we found a cheap hotel and were there for three days – with Katie’s then six-month old son in tow. All of our husbands agreed to be “in charge” at home. At some point we decided this should become an annual occasion and not a year has gone since then by without a sisters’ trip. Susan has a photo album to prove it!
I can tell you there is something about sisters that is so special, and when we are on our own – away from our wonderful husbands, away from children and grandchildren – magic happens. We don’t have to take care of anyone, we can just be ourselves: we stay where we like, we eat when and what we want, we wear what we feel like wearing…there are no expectations and no agenda. We originally totally disconnected from our phones and computers. And though this attempt to be 100% off the grid has been discarded for practical reasons, we certainly aren’t online as much as we are in our “normal” everyday lives. Not that we don’t fall into our childhood roles, mind you….we do. For example, I am the oldest so I get my own bed and decide about food I crave while the other two share sleeping quarters. We have had really no major conflicts on these trips that I can recall.
Many of my friends and even close relatives have asked why they cannot join us. Sorry, my dears, but it just would not be the same. The three of us share a similar past, the same memories, and a lot of identical views of the world and how we wish to live our lives. Our relationship with each other is stronger and we “know” each other much better as a result of our annual trips.
This does NOT have to do with money or the lack thereof, or with the need to travel to exotic locales. A couple of years we actually convened at one of our houses and arranged for the family to take a short camping trip overnight. Yes, it was just overnight but we pooled our money and used it for airfare. We always share expenses three ways and it would be two ways if one of us couldn’t pitch in. It doesn’t matter where we go or how we roll…just having a bit of uninterrupted time together is sacred.
For those of you women without sisters (think my darling daughter) you can either do this with your brothers (!) or with sisters-in-law or even girlfriends. No, it isn’t the same but it’s still a tradition you might want to begin.
My only caveat would be: Take care to choose travel partners who need about the same amount of sleep, who have equal energy levels and who don’t annoy you. And put a date on the calendar to honor for time with your family of origin or with your special friends. Amen!