21 Jul 2015
Summer is usually a busy time, with everybody engaging in one of the great American activities. According to the overwhelming number of citizens, no summer is actually official until every American pursues this activity vigorously. Of course, I am referring to summer family vacation.
Our American government guarantees its citizens the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This is the great American dream, drawing people from all over the world to our shores. Once they become full-fledged American citizens, they then dream of taking a summer vacation to Italy or France.
I am not sure how it happened, but somewhere, someone defined “the pursuit of happiness” to mean summer family vacations. Actually, if left up to me, I could find happiness in some other pursuit. Like an afternoon pursuing Apple fritters. However, who am I to buck the great American tradition?
Since the “pursuit of happiness” is the annual summer vacation, I thought it might be beneficial if I offered, out of my vast years of experience, some advice to my fellow vacationers on this crucial subject. After all, somebody needs to learn from my mistakes; I am not sure I have.
Every family vacationer consists of two categories; those who plan the vacation and those who fund the vacation.
The difference is obvious. If you plan a vacation, you are not required to fund it. If you fund the vacation, you have no say in the planning.
Rules are rules and I would like to know who made up these rules. I am guessing it was no one in the funding category.
If your responsibility is to fund the family vacation, there are certain things you are not allowed to say to those who are planning said vacation. For one, the sponsor of the vacation is never allowed to mention the word “budget.” Nothing kills the exuberant spirit of the vacation planner than mentioning that foul word “budget.”
If you insist on interjecting the concept of budget to the summer vacation, you might as well stay at home. Now, if you exercise this option, be prepared to endure the worst summer of your life. The entire cast of your family will work together to make you regret this option. They will find ways to finagle money out of you throughout the summer, far exceeding what you would have spent on the vacation, which brings the curtain down on your precious budget.
One year I thought I had a brilliant idea. I sent my family on vacation while I stayed at home. It was the most relaxing two weeks I had ever enjoyed in my life, not to mention the quietness.
Unfortunately, a month after my family returned from their vacation, I began getting the credit card bills from their delightful jaunt. According to my credit card statement, my family had the time of their life and no expense was spared for their enjoyment.
The next year, and every year after, I accompanied my family on the annual summer vacation just to keep tabs on my credit card. And believe me; the tab grew each day of our vacation.
So, when anyone in your family mentions the word “vacation,” bite your tongue if the word “budget” pops into your mind and take it like the man you are, which is the only sensible thing to do if you love a happy life.
I know when the first mention of the concept comes up in the family discussion, immediately you might think to yourself, “is it really worth it?”
I have wrestled with this question for many years. Every annual two-week vacation takes six months to prepare, five months and two weeks to recover, along with the mysterious disappearance of a full year’s salary. Following the vacation there is no logical explanation as to where that money went.
Someone said a picture is worth a thousand words. Let me modify this to apply it to the family summer vacation. A vacation picture is worth $1,000.
Following every vacation, there is the necessary time to recover. Recuperating from the summertime vacation is like recovering the living room couch. The sofa looks refreshed and refurbished, but you know what is underneath and you know it really is not what it boasts to be.
No matter how much you recover that old living room sofa, it is still old and worn out. Appearances can be deceiving and appearances at the summer vacation can also be deceiving.
After years of financing the annual summer vacation, I have concluded that fun is expensive. I have found no way of getting around this truth.
On the other hand, grumpy is free. Lately, I have been leaning toward grumpy.
Summer vacations are necessary and a person just has to learn to deal with it and make the most of it, or the least of it, depending on your perspective.
Everybody needs to get away and rest. Even Jesus understood this concept.
He invites us to “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The best thing about the “rest” Jesus offers is he has already paid for it. Now I can really enjoy that vacation.