A yearly appointment

One day about three years ago, my father invited his five children, married and parents themselves, to accompany him and my mother to the Holy Land. He was already 85 and hadn’t been traveling or flying for quite a few years. Up to that point, I think he had been feeling old and a bit worried and fearful and had sort of closed that chapter of his life. But that day something happened, the result of a combination of his desire to visit again the places his beloved Jesus had grown up in and his eagerness to take a trip with his family, something we hadn’t done since we had all been pretty young.

It didn’t take much for all of us to say yes! In the months preceding the trip, the seven of us met a few times to prepare and work out the schedule and details. My father researched and came up with a personalized guide book that covered the nine days we would spend in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. Everyone was assigned responsibilities: my father was “the patriarch,” my mom was the nurse and vitamins dispenser, one of my brothers kept a diary, another one took care of practical aspects, one of my sisters was the treasurer, and the other helped with the historical background. Because of my knowledge of English, I was assigned interpreting duties.

There was much trepidation and expectation up to the morning we boarded the plane, and the nine days we spent were magical, an unforgettable experience of great sights, unexpected adventures, long, deep talks, and lots of fun. We haven’t always been a lovey-dovey blissful family, but with age have come wisdom and empathy. We were able to talk about the past with affection and tenderness, and a touch of humor. We came back enriched by this experience and definitely more united.

Since then, we’ve been taking a trip together as a family every year—not as long or involved as the first one, but each one unique. No matter how busy our year is, we all know it’s one of our most important appointments.

Now my own children are looking forward to the day my husband and I will take them on a trip of this kind, and others of our relatives and circle of friends have begun doing this as well.