Fun n’ the Sun with Unexpected Kindness

Okay, so here’s the scoop: Nearly every year of our marriage, my husband John and I have managed to go on vacation. Granted, when the children were small, or I was nursing, pregnant, or our budget was drained because of a new baby, new roof, washer-dryer, furnace, braces for kids or other household luxuries, we went no farther than Hudson, Wisconsin for an overnight. ALONE. That was the “key” and it was that aloneness and annual “Honeymoon” away, that kept us renewed, revitalized and rested.
John used to tell the kids, “This is your vacation – from us!” Some loved it until the live-in “watch dogs” we lined up to babysit, became more difficult and unpredictable than we were!

bowserI will admit that when the children were small I had a tough time keeping my promise that I would go on vacation without the kids.

“I just don’t think this is the right time. There’s too much going on and I get so nervous leaving them,” I would tell John. “Besides I’ll miss them so much.”
“Yah, and you’ll be yelling and wondering why we didn’t stay longer, 30 minutes after we return home,” John would say.
Mr. Prognosticator with his crystal ball!

Now that our young are grown and on their own, our little get-aways have taken a new twist. Not only do we vacation alone, but on occasion we are joined by some of our adult kids who actually think we’re fun to be with. Imagine that! Here’s a notion which neither we nor they would have ever thought possible!

I remember a few times when a couple of our kids (names are withheld to protect the guilty) thought any travel or road trip with us was about the most dreadful experience they could ever have. (We weren’t over-joyed to be with them either, if my memory serves me right). In fact, John used to say, “It’s the kids vacation and our “trip.”
Thankfully, we’ve lived long enough to witness maturity take hold and what a joy it is to see!

Yes, there’s something magical and miraculous that occurs between parents and their children once kids make it through their adolescence and teen years, a time when most parents are viewed as archaic, old-fashioned and totally out-of-touch. It’s called maturation.

As for our recent vacation, four of us left the Minnesota ice and snow for one of our favorite vacation spots – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. John and I were joined by our oldest daughter Chrissy and her husband Andy – thanks to Andy’s parents who graciously block off their calendar, and move in for the week to stay with their six children (ages 18-6).

Jack and Gwen are grandparents “par excellence!” They not only move in and help the kids keep their school, sports, and piano practice schedules, but Gwen bakes their favorite meals and they usually squeeze in a special outing to a local museum or event.
This grandma is a slouch by comparison.

As for our week get-away – it did wonders for us and for our adult kids: Andy from his sometimes demanding job as an electrician, and Chrissy from her busy household, not to mention the work she takes in as a skilled seamstress in her “spare” time.

As for John and I – we r e l a x. Totally! For this “type A” that’s something. No phone, no fax, no computer, no demands. Just r e l a x! All I have to think about is when and where will I enjoy the next wonderful meal that I didn’t have to cook! In one week, we return full of sun and good memories that linger long past the faded tans.

Speaking of our return, this year, like most others, we planned to bring back piñatas for several of our young grandchildrens’ upcoming Birthdays. Chrissy brings sketches of the latest comic characters – such as Tinkerbell, Hello Kitty, Angry Bird, and Mario, and a Mexican lady who runs a little shop from her home eagerly brings each drawing to life with her home-made Pinatas.

This year, the three chosen designs for grandsons Thomas, Patrick and granddaughter Gianna, were a pirate treasure chest, Bowser (Don’t ask me.) and Rapunzel – with the long flowing hair. When we returned to the shop to pick them up there was one problem, the characters were nearly as big as the grandkids – in height and width. The Shop lady beamed with pride. We didn’t dare tell her they were a bit large for air travel.

“Just how do you think you’re going to get these home,” my skeptical son-in-law Andy, asked Chrissy.

Not to be discouraged, Chrissy replied, “We’ve done it before. We’ll each take a character and ask if we can stow them with the strollers (as we previously did).”
At the airport we were met by security agents, who immediately called “supervisors” to check out the rule. As we waited nervously, Chrissy was sure not to catch Andy’s “I-told-you-so” look.

Finally we passed the first checkpoint only to be stopped later at the gate as we prepared to board, by agents who firmly insisted, “Piñatas’ are against regulations because they are flammable.”

Chrissy in her sweetest and most persistent demeanor pleaded, “But our books, our jackets, our clothes, our hair – everything is flammable!”

Persuasion and politeness did not work. The three piñatas were left at the gate as we sadly boarded the plane for home.

And there they would have stayed, had it not been for the kindness of the Delta Pilot and Chief Steward who saw the gate activity and intervened on our behalf: “We can take these on board. We’ll go back and get them after everyone is seated,” the Pilot told us.

And that they did.

And so we returned with the pirate treasure chest, Bowser and Rapunzel with the three foot blond hair streamers – thanks to the Delta flight crew who knew the value of bringing something special home to share with family.

Isn’t life grand? Little acts of kindness and unexpected blessings are in the every day – even on vacation when strict flight regulations are in force.


Mary Ann Kuharski is a mother of 13, 6 of whom were adopted and are of mixed races, some with special needs. She is an author and the Director of PROLIFE Across AMERICA, known as “the billboard people”. Learn more at or become a fan: