I’ve gone on many, many family holidays, but what I remember isn’t exactly what I originally sent any postcards home about. The novelty of a family holiday is a notion that has alluded me for a long time.
I grew up the second eldest of five sons and it was what seemed to me to be a long time before I could enjoy my own holiday on my own conditions. Probably the fact that I was in that position in the family, where I seemed to spend more time on full family holidays than my other brothers may have, may have encouraged a sense of desperation I had to avoid mass family fuelled exodus when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I’m certainly more inclined to enthuse over a family holiday now, probably because I’m not a teenager anymore.
Back in the day, as all family holidays begin, the car was the transport of choice for all our communal adventures. If we were lucky we’d get to go on the boat to France, but this was certainly the exception rather than the rule. You can imagine the sense of expectation we all had as we prepared for those summer holidays down in Kerry, which was at least seven hours driving away. This trip was long before motorways, let alone well maintained rosds, and people didn’t see rules about seatbelts on in the back seat as that important. All five of us would somehow fit in the back seet, and if we were lucky one of us would manage to get the front seat.
My youngest brother, otherwise known as the baby (as he was at the time and still believes himself to be so), would wedge himself in between either my legs or my eldest brother’s legs. So there we’d sit, each of us vying for an extra inch, and somehow combining into a melee of arms and arses which was, for better or worse, comfortable. There was never a short straw, because the person who didn’t have my youngest brother between his legs was the one who had to sit behind my ould fella who had the seat pushed all the way back leaving practically no room for the person behind him. It can be such a joy to reminisce.
The last real family excursion I’ve experienced actually involved the grand arrival of the entire entourage in Korea for my wedding back in 2008. This was definitely surreal having all my brothers over scaring the locals every time they burst out laughing. Fortunately we were all grown up and knew better than to use one car for a family that included six large males, some larger than others, plus my poor little mother, not to mention Herself who was about to join these ranks, and her own family who were eager to show us around.
But it was different. Gone were the elbows in ribs and sandy arses wedged tightly together in the back seat of a Volvo. We were lucky enough to have Herself’s own ould fella’s mini-van as well as another car, although I can’t recall where that came from. This was unprecedented luxury transport of the highest order. There was even room to take a nap so as to sleep off some of the post wedding celebratory hangovers from the night before as we convoyed between destinations.
These days however, most of my family holidays are quite minor affairs, at least in terms of the number of people who travel. Myself and Herself tend to be the sum total of travellers, although the odd time my parents will be with us if we’re in Ireland, or friends who join us here and there. Unfortunately our journies have not managed to carry on that fine child hood tradition of wedging as many people into the back of the car as is likely will fit, but maybe with +1 soon to arrive, those days are soon to return. Oh. bliss.