Tag: Washington DC

A Different Sort of Family Vacation

For several decades, family vacations were defined in a certain way. But as with all of life, things change.

My most recent vacation to the South was a different sort of family vacation for me. However, that means next to nothing if the “norm” of family vacations remains undefined.

Welcome to the earlier definitions of “family vacation.”

The Childhood Definition

A vacation in my childhood involved a canvas tent, sleeping bags, a cooler and camp stove and public forest camping.

And I didn’t complain because I can count on one hand the number of times my father, mother, sister and I went on a trip together. The most memorable one involved a road trip from Oregon to Oklahoma in 1976 for a family reunion.

I wanted to become an Okie after that trip. But that could have been because I did NOT want to get back in the car for three days of solid driving through hot Kansas without air conditioning, no bathroom breaks, sleeping in the cramped back seat with my sister…and the switch.

Because there would be NO fighting. And Dad wouldn’t have to pull the car over thanks to the switch he cut and could handily whip between my sister and my’s bare legs with Indiana Jones precision.

So, I didn’t really know what a family vacation was all about.

The Definition I Adored

And then I married Mr. Wonderful whose family went to campgrounds with neighborhood friends and relatives every summer with regularity. And they slept in RVs. And girls showered and fixed their hair and applied makeup.

So that was a huge culture shock for the girl who caught her dinner in the creek, went to the bathroom in a bucket and washed her face upstream (if you get my meaning).

But once we had kids, we began our own traditions. And when the kids were old enough, we planned a fantastic Spring Break trip…just the four of us. Sometimes we asked friends to tag along, but when you’re jetting across the country that’s not always possible.

Most memorable to me: Washington DC and Disney Orlando

During our RV years, there were plenty of summer trips too. Of course, these were road trips. And the large-bladdered men in my family jibed me for too many bathroom breaks, but no one ever said I had to hold it for another two hours.

Some places we went in the summer: Yellowstone, Redwoods and Disneyland (we even got to fly to this destination-yay!)

Most memorable road trip during this phase: to Colorado.

This was the trip of the Piggyback Hike and the Boot Removal of Death. I’m pretty sure any man in my family can recall exact (and exaggerated) details of those events.

But, kids grow up. And now our “family” has grown to six and our vacations together are more sporadic and occur in December near Christmas. Generally to tropical climates.

A New Dictionary Entry

This past week, I visited family. That’s the new sort of “family” vacation. Rather than going somewhere with “my boys,” I planned an entire ten days around a special someone: my Aunt Betty.

Aunt Betty is an amazing lady. A real Renaissance Woman (and if there isn’t such a thing, now there is). She pursued a career when women were “expected” to marry young and fill a house with babies.

When a man didn’t deserve her faithfulness, she divorced him. Yes, in the Bible Belt in the 1950s. Unheard of. And highly unpopular.

She’s a true survivor. At the moment, she’s surviving her third diagnosis of breast cancer. And she’s over 80, so she knows she’s living on “blessed time” (see Psalms if you don’t know what I’m referring to here).

I tried to plan a trip in May to the College World Series in Oklahoma City (where Aunt B lives), but the ticket prices…stunned me. When I could take a Caribbean cruise for less money, I had to pass.

But we have a condo in Branson, MO. And they have great shows there and amazing Christmas light displays. So, I planned our vacation around visiting Aunt Betty in OKC and then taking her on a road trip to Branson.

And we all know how I feel about road trips.

What’s your idea of a “family vacation”? Am I all wrong with my three definitions?

When I’m THAT Person

Confession time. *cringes* Sometimes I do exactly the thing I despise when other people do it. Yes, I’m THAT person. And it makes me feel worse than ashamed.

I’m sure there are dozens of examples of this shortcoming. However, a recent one nags at the back of my mind. I hope by letting it hang out here, it will stop plaguing my supposed-to-be-sleeping time.

THAT Person

Close to two decades ago now, I had my first opportunity to travel somewhere simply because my husband was going there for work.

At the time, I had two preschool-aged children, so it’s safe to say I didn’t get out much. I NEVER got out of the state.

My husband had a class in Gaithersburg, MD, which is less than an hour from our nation’s capital. He was there for two weeks and wanted me to fly down for the weekend he had to stay over.

Since it was near tax refund time, he opted to use some of the refund money to purchase my plane ticket. Other than food and entertainment (much of which is 100 percent free in DC), that was the largest expense.

At a family dinner a week or two before the trip, I was babbling excitedly about getting away and seeing the history in Washington, DC.

THAT person asked, “How long are you going to be there?”

“Two days.”

“That’s not enough time to see anything.”

Balloon of excitement immediately deflates for me. I did manage to listen as Killjoy suggested what my top sightseeing priorities should be, but really I wanted to cry.

(Much of my reaction had to do with this person because they seemed intent on demeaning anything I ever talked about or did.)

THAT Person is Me

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago.

Someone was making a spur-of-the-moment trip to Virginia with their family. They didn’t plan to have much free time, but they wanted to get to Washington, DC.

Side note: if you’re an American citizen and have never visited the nation’s capital, you owe yourself a trip. I’m not much of a history buff, but there is so much there and it brings important people and events of our national heritage to life.

My husband was talking about parking problems and other things.

I said, “A few hours? That’s not enough time to see anything.”

Yes, indeed. I actually said the EXACT same words as THAT person. In that moment, I was THAT person, throwing my wet blanket over someone else’s excitement.

My husband gave me a side-long glare, but he didn’t say anything. He still hasn’t said anything. But as often as I’ve brought up THAT person’s negative tone, I know he had to be thinking about it.

His look said, “Really? You’re going to be THAT person? Don’t you remember how crushed you felt when that happened?”

And suddenly I did.

I’m a jerk extraordinaire. I’ve plummeted to an all-time low point in human compassion.

Kill me now.

Okay, let’s not go overboard.

But it was too late to take the words back. I was no longer standing in the conversation to try and backtrack and apologize.

So here is my very public apology. I’m sorry for being a total jerk about your quick trip to DC. I hope you got to see some incredible things and soak in the nostalgic air of patriotism.

I don’t want to be THAT person. Never again.

What about you? Have you ever done something similar? Please, save me from feeling like the biggest cruel idiot in the world.