It’s Summer time and thoughts of vacations, pools and relaxing float through everybody’s head. Only in the United States do people work all year and receive one to two weeks of vacation. The sad part is most Americans don’t even take vacations, choosing to stay home or save it up for a rainy day. We are a nation of workaholics who don’t work that hard. We’ve traded our health and sanity for a steady paycheck and wonder why we aren’t happy.
Lee says: As a child, towards the beginning of June, I remember we would have the radio on and wait for the Alice Cooper anthem announcing that ‘School’s Out’. Little did I realize that the song was more of a precognitive ode to Columbine than an actual celebration to the beginning of Summer vacation. Summer was a mixture of days in the pool or working with my parents. My parents owned a women’s clothing factory in Los Angeles and my sister and I spent many a summer day sweltering in the family sweat shop. We were the little Thai workers earning two pennies a day (which by the way, they never gave me). Funny thing was that I loved it. It was hot, smelled of sewing machine oil and dye and I adored every bit of it.
Occasionally growing up, my parents would take us on a vacation. In the summer it may look like a few weekends in Catalina on the boat. Perhaps we could zip over to Las Vegas where we were left to fend for ourselves in Circus Circus playing carnival games until our eyes almost shut (remember Georgie?). One summer, I do remember the big trip to Hawaii.
My older sister had gotten married in June and in August, my Mother, Father, brother and I went to Oahu. I was 14 years old and it had been a very stressful year. We had recently taken in family due to the Mariel boatlift where my father had spent nearly a month waiting on a boat to bring the family to the states. Lots of drama and fear made this a memorable vacation. My parents kept us busy with tours, luaus and boat rides. We spent time lounging on the beach, trying weird things and creating memories that we still laugh about 29 years later (quickly, do the math).
The point of this is that we all need to get away. We know the economy is scary and the doomsday predictions are more believable than any positive story. The reality is we only have today and we need to enjoy it. We need to take advantage of this time from school to create the memories that are indelible in our minds and that of our kids. My fond memories of summer vacations, no matter how sweaty or elaborate, are of my parents and siblings. I draw upon them and the depth of our love for each other. Things I learned from summer vacations are being behind the fan is the hottest place to be, water pruning takes several hours to go away, the dime toss game is fixed and my father would sacrifice his kids for a good picture. Ah, the memories!
Paul says: For most of my youth, my dad worked for American Airlines in the heyday of the industry, when they still gave you food and a child could lay down in the seat. So I can happily say that I travelled a lot. We always took a big family vacation every year. One of the things that I think my mom did well was that she made the vacations adventures. As a family, we actively sought out the weird or, at least, weird to Americans. Highlights include being twelve in Nova Scotia and having wine with my lobster. The sense of maturity and sophistication that I had during that meal formed my beliefs on restaurant behavior. I still can’t see a child running around in a restaurant without thinking ‘sit down or you’re not going to get your wine’. My second thought is to beat the child but that is a post for a different time.