It’s interesting what you remember from childhood.
While out on one of our marathon 4 hour dinner dates with another couple (we LOVE them), the topic of vacations came up. It is amazing what parents dream about when the thought of being without kids starts to become a reality. Friend Husband and I talked about how much fun we thought it would be to RV across the nation.
Maybe it’s because we both came from large families—he had eleven, mine was a much smaller seven – the vacation options were limited by the realities of too many people and too little money. My father’s go-to idea was camping. His parents loaded all the kids into the car and went to a hotel with a pool.
The mental picture of a gaggle of people crammed into a station wagon with gear strapped to the top still cracks me up today. Husband #2 and Friend Wife would roll their eyes at the idea of traveling this way. Something about torture…I believe the words, “cruel and unusual punishment” were muttered.
We’d drive our way as far as a tank of gas and a handful of vacation days would take us. As my father would pitch the tents (the multi-room tent mansions of today did not exist back then), and my mother would turn her attention to setting up the camp kitchen, we kids would run off to explore the nearest creek and catch crayfish for dinner using a couple of plastic cups. Poor man lobster!
The memories of climbing mossy boulders, watching Northern Lights under starry skies, and eating fire pies still make me smile. My sisters and I, who couldn’t stand each other at home where we had our separate friends, would hang out together, singing, playing cards, and making up stories because there were no other kids around.
All these years later, those experiences are what I remember the most.
Yesterday I stumbled across an article on Oprah’s website. Dr. Phil is telling me about Three Things I Don’t Have To Do This Holiday Season. Who am I to ignore such valuable advice from Dr. Phil?
Tip #2 I don’t have to buy everyone the perfect present.
That one got me thinking. What did I get the kids last year? Could I even remember? Could they?
Sure, there are some big gifts from my childhood that stick out, like the 10-speed bike I got when I turned 13, the Emerson stereo I got for my 16th birthday, and the handmade doll I received for Christmas the year my dad was on strike. Out of the 18 birthdays and 18 Christmases I spent under my parents’ roof, I could remember 3 presents.
But what I do remember were the myriad of campgrounds, the time my mother chased off raccoons with her Dutch wooden clogs, and comfortably snoozing in my Dad’s old Army sleeping bag.
So I’ve decided that the Christmas presents will disappear and I’ll bundle up the kids, pack up the car and head out on the road. Maybe we’ll stop at a hotel with a pool, or maybe we will venture South to warmer weather. Who knows? It will be an adventure on how far I can get with a tank of gas and a pack of kids. But I do know that I have plenty of Christmas CDs and lots of road games that we can play while we’re getting there.
Will my children cherish these road trip memories as much as I will? Maybe, maybe not. But no matter what the outcome, they will have memories.
I’ve already written myself a note: “Whatever you do, don’t forget the snack bag!”