What do you like best about vacation? Is it traveling to a new location, relaxing, being with loved ones, reading a good book or all of the above? The Marshalls had a week-long vacation on the coast of Baja California, 73 kilometers south of the United States, in a rental house. The compound was big enough to sleep all twelve of us – my mother-in-law and father-in-law, who graciously underwrote the rental, Christi’s sister, a brother-in-law and our nephew, our daughter Victoria, her husband Douglas, their almost-three-year old Dougie, and the four Marshall crew. The main attraction of the compound was the deck and a short, sandy walk to the beach.
Of all the things I love about vacation, and in particular this one, spending time with family is number one. A close second, however, is television. The house had a fifty inch TV with a monstrous sound system, quite a set up with two amplifiers, one inside and another for outside speakers. The owner walked me through how to access the various components that could turn this sleepy Baja fishing village into a beach party scene to rival MTV. Although the sound system was on for most of the day and night, the television never made an appearance. My kids saw it, were impressed but then realized it was a “Mexican TV” so nothing would be in English. I did nothing to dispel that thought (even though I knew it was connected to a well-known American satellite company which offers hundreds of English-speaking channels). Likewise, I brought a converter that would take a Samsung tablet or smartphone and display it through an HDMI cord. I could have shown their favorite shows on the giant TV through Netflix or YouTube. But I did not tell them I had the cord. Does that omission make me a bad person, parson, or papa? Regardless, it was an easy decision to spend an entire week with my boys with no TV interruptions.
The result of having no television was awesome. Our evenings were spent on the spacious deck watching the waves roll onto the white sandy beach, enjoying the stars at night, and having meaningful conversations (and one crazy night when someone, I won’t mention who, bought fireworks). We had mornings with no TV – so no reminders of the tragedies of the world to start our day. Instead, we played card games, made Play-doh creatures, walked on the beach, played pool, listened to music, drank coffee, and talked. … while pondering where to buy more fireworks.
There was a Cantina five houses down the gravel road, just past the massive security gate. There is a shuffleboard game there that the boys enjoyed playing. Oddly enough, we went during the recent presidential debate which was shown on several televisions placed strategically around the darkened room. It was the first bit of television that we saw in a while. It looked and sounded jarring and alien in small Mexican village cantina.
When we arrived home, no one noticed our own television. It didn’t get turned on for a while. We had gotten used to not living around it.
Vacations are important. It’s good to get away and spend time with loved ones. Although we have settled back into our routine, which includes television, one thing that remains is the time spent together. It reminds me of Mary and Martha – the latter spent time in the kitchen while Mary spent time at Jesus’ feet. Time spent with family is short but, as Jesus said, it is the better part, the one thing that remains.