Spend Time with your Family
Updated: Jul 12, 2019
When I was growing up our family did not have much money. My father’s preacher salary in the early 70’s was $100 per week. We were provided a house to live in, and the garden provided a great food source for us. Some of the church members were farmers, so there was always fresh milk and other shared bounty from their crops. I speak of this now in retrospect, as I had no idea things were financially tight for us at the time. The family had what it needed, and there were others that had less than we did, so as children we were not aware of any hardships.
My family owned two cars in 1971. The first was a two door 1958 Buick which my father named “Flattery”, based on the assumption that “Flattery will get you nowhere”. He used this for short trips around town and some turned out to be shorter than originally hoped for, as Flattery was not always in the mood to go. The second vehicle was a Volkswagen Camper. It had a bench seat that folded down in to a bed, and a little ice box, sink combo that allowed for lunches to be prepared while in transit. This was a horribly under-powered van, with an air-cooled 4 cylinder engine that faithfully carried the family to exotic locations like the grocery store. It also held the dubious honor of delivering our family of six, in just 24 short hours, from Albia, Iowa to Highlands, Texas every other Christmas, where my grandparents lived.
This is what my family recognized as vacation. Part of the recognition came from the fact that we left home for a few days, and part because we would stop and camp or stay in a motel in Missouri, so my parents could catch 5 hours sleep during the trek. But the biggest factor that drove home the idea of the vacation was the fact that our father was not working. For a man that worked 7 days a week, every week, and sometimes those were 15 hour days, we came to know this trip as vacation. It was a few days away from everyday activities, with the family playing license plate bingo that I will always remember as vacation.
The point is that there does not need to be destinations of grand scale for a child to remember vacation. I went to Disneyland for the first time when I was 26 years old. As a child, sleeping in a tent at Double Lake created memories I will never forget. The smallest details are what bring back the nostalgia of those long family road trips. As I was the family member who found it impossible to be quiet for the first 12 years of my life, I was bestowed the honor of keeping the driver of the VW awake, if they chose to drive through the night. Both of my parents would tell you that it was impossible to nod off while driving when young “motor-mouth” was riding shotgun. Endless stories with no structure, moral or climax would pour out of my mind while at my post. I remember that time alone with my parents as precious. In a family of six, that kind of captive audience parent time was rare.
As the sun came up through the driver’s side window, my father would hand me a cinnamon roll from the tin pan that sat up in the windshield on top of the defroster, warmed as if straight from the oven. There would be a thermos of coffee that at seven years old, felt like sharing the holy grail of beverages with my dad. Strong, black, bitter and boiling was how he preferred his morning drink, and so I knew no other way to drink it. He would tell me stories of when he was my age, and I would know that we were somehow similar. We would arrive at our destination, and the family would be consumed with Christmas, and family and all the things that cousins needed to catch up on. But I would already be thinking about the trip home, and the stories that would be told, and the geography and history lesson that must accompany any trip across the country. This was family vacation at its finest, and I remember it fondly.
The Bottom Line: it does not matter where you go, or how long you stay. Your family deserves vacation time. They deserve time together, and they deserve time with you. Take the time, create the memories, and seal the bonds. And don’t forget to throw in some cinnamon rolls and coffee.