Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vacation--Dutiful or Duty-free?

When I was a child our family vacations weren't vacations for my mother. 

If we were driving cross country to visit my grandparents she had to pack clothes for 4 kids. She filled the ice chest with milk for breakfast, lunch meat and cheese for lunch, repeat for dinner. Then she had to pack bread, miniature cereal boxes, snacks, and plastic dishes.

Then she'd alternate driving with my father for 48 hours with only road-side stops. She was exhausted before we started, and by the end at least one of us had thrown up in the car from motion sickness. 

Once we traveled with an infant, and had to haul all of the stuff moms once used to make their own baby formula. My two year old sister got into the box and poured Karo syrup (an ingredient in the formula) all over the quilt padding in the back of the station wagon. At the next gas station I held the edges of the quilt up while Mom stood at the small rest room sink and tried to scrub out the sticky mess.  

It was the same for camping vacations, but there was less driving and more gear.  Still, she frequently spent the first day in the tent recuperating.

I didn't want to repeat that with my own family so we didn't camp. I didn’t count trips to visit family out of state as vacations. It wasn’t until I got a job with a major airline, and gained inexpensive flight privileges, that we finally got to take real vacations.

It’s a vacation if:

I did help clean-up.
1. I have abandoned my residence and my regular life style. I am living in a house someone else decorated. I take a shower in a bathroom I didn't have to clean. Someone else prepares a delicious dinner for me as well as does the dishes. 

2. I shake loose the tendrils of shoulds and oughts that grow on the net of daily routine. I strive to be "a being free from duty" (Latin vacationem)

3.  I give myself permission to be self-centered and indulgent.  My only responsibilities are to be considerate of others and clean up after myself. 

4. I can start the day with a bike ride on the beach, end with wine on a screened porch. I get to see new places and try new things. Last year I tried boogie boarding. 
coffee beans

This spring I learned a little about coffee farming in Guatemala. My world expands and my perspective is stretched. 

5. I don’t feel guilty if I read in the middle of the day.

6. I go home before I have to vacuum or change the sheets.

And it's even better if I go someplace that doesn't speak (much) English!

I don’t know what your criteria is, but I hope you get to take a vacation this summer. What was your best vacation ever, and what made it so? 

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