Summer Vacation

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It’s that time of year when we start planning our summer vacations. In earnest, I should say, for some people have been planning their vacation for quite some time now—in some cases since the Carter Administration.

For those families who plan vacations in the summer because that’s when the kids are out of school, this hopeful anticipation is sprinkled with a fair share of absolute dread. I mean, you pay all these taxes to keep the kids occupied—ahem, I mean, educated—and then suddenly they’re given back to you and you’re pretty sure they’re dumber than the last time you saw them, sometime around Christmas.

Still, it’s a western civilization tradition to gather up the family during the hottest part of the summer, put them in a car whose air conditioning works great in the winter, and head … somewhere else! It’s a chance to “get away from it all” by “going where it all is”.

If you haven’t started planning your family vacation, there are several things to consider. The first is, of course, money. No one has any in this economy, so you can stop worrying about that one. Taking a cue from our elected officials, we charge the vacation and “kick the can down the road” hoping this summer’s vacation will be so grand that the kids won’t mind that they’re still paying for it long after we have departed this mortal coil (and hoping that, if it turns out to be a disaster, that won’t influence too heavily the home they put us in for our golden years).

Next, there’s the question of “What?” No, I’m not talking about the endless miles of the kid in the back seat saying, “Daddy!” and you saying, “What?!?!” in return, only to find out that mixing your kid and road-trip fast food is not a good idea for the upholstery. I wasn’t thinking of that at all. Honest. The question I was referring to was, “What do we want to do for this vacation?”

We could take a “stay-cation”. That’s the thing our President keeps encouraging us to do during these tough economic times just before he and his family head out to their fifth European or Hawaiian vacation of the month. I appreciate that he’s only thinking of me and my bottom line, but, um, no. I want to go somewhere.

Shall we go to the beach, where not only will we be stung by jelly-fish and those guys who sell what we think is fried fish along the boardwalk? Or, shall we go to the mountains where we can’t breath because of the altitude and a “$5 dollar footlong” from our favorite fast food restaurant costs ten dollars? Maybe we can go to the big city and hit the amusement parks for a chance to spend eight hours standing in line for a ride that hasn’t worked more than twice in a row since its construction late in the last century.

If you have teenagers, you know that there are many wonderful places to take your teens on vacation, all of which have in common the fact that your teen will hate them. I remember being the teen and being dragged on vacations to places that—these days—I would probably enjoy but, as a teen, found to be incredibly boring. As a parent of teenagers, though, I have come to realize that it’s actually a function of their pre-formed brains. I have teenage boys and I’m pretty sure if I took them to “The Amusement Park with No Lines” or even “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Bikini Camp” and they would FIND a way to be bored.

So, start thinking about that vacation now. Not the one you’re going to take with your family. The one you’re going to take after that to recover from your vacation.