I love my job, but I have to say, I love the holidays too. That’s not to say I’m in it for the holidays: I’m not. But they are a perk of the job.
Holidays mean regular times to see the family.
As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. Maybe it’s a case of rose tinted glasses, but I do remember most weekends being spent seeing one or other set; as a small child, they helped out with childcare and as I grew older, I spent time with them during the school holidays too. When I saw them all of the time, I didn’t think anything much of going round to their houses. Of course, there are special memories associated with both: at one Nan’s house, I’d spend hours looking through her jewellery box at all her wonderful rings, and my Grampy would let me stamp the Pools Coupons with his special stamp (he was the Pools Man for their village). At the others’ house, Nan would make me coffee with loads of milk that always got the skin on the top when it cooled, and proper toast with proper bread and proper butter, and my Grandad would teach me to box and call me “Angel”. They were just things that happened: they were my grandparents with their houses and gardens and routines. It was just the way it was.
I consider myself to be very lucky to still have three of my grandparents to visit, and the school holidays are the time to do it. When I moved away to university, and then to live, visiting them didn’t happen as often as it had done in my younger years. This is why I love the holidays. Having a regular interlude in the everyday chaos of working life means that I can take time out to go and see them. It’s too easy for the days, weeks, months and eventually years to pass by without ever having made that phone call or visit that I’ve intended to make. But having regular holidays is like having a reminder that it’s visiting time. I’ve always tried to go over, but now that I have children, it’s even more important. I remember visiting them all about 7 years ago and thinking how I wanted my children to grow up knowing their great grandparents. That’s when MVNTH and I decided the time was right to start a family. We were right. I love seeing them all together: I see my grandparents in a whole new light. I don’t remember them when I was very young, and I don’t remember how they were with my younger brother when he was a small child, so seeing the three of them now with my children is a revelation. I see them differently, see how they idolise my children, see how they revel in their growing up. Grandad plays Top Trumps with T and football in the garden (it’s been a while since I saw him play football!), and now he calls G “Angel” instead of me. Nan makes them biscuits and jam tarts. And the other nan has a special cup for T to use for his squash whenever he goes round. T and G are making their own special memories of their great grandparents.
I see their homes differently too. All of my grandparents live in the villages I grew up knowing, in the houses I knew them in. The houses and villages I have visited thousands of times before. But each time I go back there now, I appreciate their homes and villages more. The beautiful countryside views out of their windows. The wonderful gardens that the children run around in. The river at the bottom of the garden. All of the things that I have seen hundreds of times before, and always taken for granted. Like my grandparents. Sometimes it’s a little chaotic trying to fit in visits to see them, with other visitors and shopping and hairdressers, but I know how much they look forward to seeing us. And I know how much the children look forward to seeing them (partly because of the biscuits and cakes that are always involved!). And I look forward to seeing them too.
When I think I about the school holidays, visiting the Nans (and Grandad!) is one of the first things I think of. Thank goodness us teachers get so much time off, I say.