As I was printing up my Christmas cards (that I’ll hopefully get sent out before the New Year), I noticed how happy my kid’s looked. And, I know it’s because they were on vacation when the pictures were taken. Not that they aren’t happy at home and at school and around town, but vacation happy is a different kind of happy. It’s an “I can sleep late and no one cares” kind of happy; it’s an “I don’t have to clean up my room or do laundry for a week” kind of happy; it’s a “take me to the beach” kind of happy, and it’s perfect!
I was happy too, on their vacation; however, I was not on vacation, I was on a trip.
You know how there is a fine line between a fast walk and a slow jog, or between black and navy? Well, that line doesn't exists between a vacation and a trip –they are completely different experiences!
On vacation, you can relax; you can soak up the environment and even forget what time it is. On vacation, you can choose what to do, and it’s perfectly acceptable. You can pamper yourself with visits to the spa, overpriced drinks, amazing show tickets, wine …um… not so much on a trip. On a trip, you are responsible for other people’s vacation. You are planning day trips, keeping time-lines, and driving in crazy traffic. You are packing snacks so you don't get stuck paying for overpriced Pringles; you are hosting hourly sunscreen rub-downs and counting heads at the beach, assuring that no one goes out too far. A trip is a fun adventure complete with compromise.
When I was 10, I remember driving from Kansas to California in an old station wagon named Sunshine. It was yellow, thus the name, and seven of us packed in for the adventure of a lifetime. Now, I don’t remember a lot from my early years, but I remember that vacation. I sat in the tiny space between the “back” (the forward facing middle seat) and the “back-back” (the backward facing, all-the-way-in-the-back seat). My sisters argued the whole way because they kept touching each other as they tried to sleep, and my brother’s feet stunk. We stopped on the side of the road to stretch and run and eat sandwiches from a cooler. We went pee behind trees or in nasty rest-stops. We only reserved one hotel room each night for all seven of us. My dad would check in, and then sneak a couple kids in after he had the keys – we weren’t flush with cash and a buck was a buck. We went to the ocean and saw the Grand Canyon and it was the best vacation ever!
But, the story is a little different told from my parent’s point of view…it was definitely a trip for them. They were the ones making the sandwiches and organizing the sleeping spots. They listened to all of us complain that we were hungry, thirsty, tired, uncomfortable, hot, bored…etc. They kept their patience pretty well as we sung the fiftieth verse of “100 Bottles of Pop on the Wall” and played the twentieth game of “Car Bingo”. It’s no wonder why they got us to the hotel pool about a nanosecond after we dropped our bags in the room; we’d play with each other and leave them alone for a few minutes…until we wanted them to “watch me dive mom!” They were ALWAYS with us.
One person’s trip is another person's vacation, and either way, they make for great stories and perfect memories. I can’t wait until next summer when we drive the kids to Utah and to visit some of the National Parks. It will be a grand vacation for the family, and a grand trip for me.