History never repeats, it has been said (and sung). It certainly rang true for me during my recent 10-day break.
It was my first beachside holiday for some years and was in the same area where my mum, dad, brother and I spent Christmas holidays for about three years running in the 1980s. I anticipated a relaxing, carefree time enjoying the sun and sand and family cameraderie - an experience reminiscent of those holidays during my mid-teens.
But I didn't realise how those fond memories are simply that . . . and cannot be either recreated or relived.
I was so swept away by a self-contrived idyll that I did not stop to think how many things had changed in the years which had since passed.
I was different. I had come to be about the same age my parents were when we made those pilgrimages to the NSW mid-north coast each December. The optimistic, secure teen with no responsibilities had two boys and a partner to look out for, adult concerns to ruminate over and little time to spend on herself.
The holidaymakers were different. My parents divorced and married other people, so it was my mother, her husband, their dog, me and the boys (XY3 and XY7) sharing a two-bedroom villa owned by my great aunt. My brother was there for Christmas Day and Boxing Day but had returned home to Sydney when I arrived after spending Christmas at the in-laws in Sydney. My partner had some work to do and had to return home, so the boys and I travelled from Sydney on the XPT.
The small villa at times was like a pressure cooker. The needs of two young boys did not always gel with the wants of a man aged in his 60s. He had always been quite understanding with the boys on previous occasions and keen to help keep them entertained but not this time. The boys were quite confused by the apparent about face (and so was I). He was worried by some difficult personal experiences one of his sons in another state was going through. However that does not excuse his anti-social and angry behaviour.
Then, of course, because her husband was unsettled and emotional so was my mum. I was on edge because my mum was stressed. Aaarrgghhh!
On the positive side the boys and I swam every day either in the ocean or ocean baths, sometimes twice. We loved it. It was the first time they both had proper swims in the surf and they just thought jumping over waves was the best thing out! We also spotted half a dozen or so dolphins on various days and enjoyed spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks.
One day mum even made a comment about how the holiday wasn't quite like the ones we had in the area in the past. I knew exactly what she was saying. It saddened us both a little.
I now fully realise that revisiting a location does not allow you to relive a certain wonderful experience. It's true, history never repeats. I also learnt not to expect to have a warm and fuzzy family time when you holiday in close quarters with your mother's husband!
I do plan to return to my great aunt's villa for a stay but it will just be me, my partner and our boys - we'll create our own beach holiday memories.
Anyone else had a similar life lesson?