Monday, August 31, 2009

Counting down the days to summer holidays…..

This summer I took two weeks worth of vacation days. I took one week in August and one week in July.

I don’t feel like I had a holiday at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the time off, paid in full and all, but I never disconnected from work. With a week here and a week there, I still felt fully connected to the workplace, and because of certain things going on, I even monitored my email and phone messages.

Evil evil email and answering machines.

I suspect my parents generation felt more rested after their vacation, as there was no way to contact them once they hit the road. Not even a cell phone. Sometimes not even a phone number, for emergencies. (I remember my parents going camping, leaving me and my siblings to our own devices, with no number to contact them. We just had to look forward to their phone call from a phone booth somewhere in North America. If someone was there to answer their call, great. If not, we were none the wiser because there was no answering machine to record their I love you’s and I miss you’s). I actually really envy what was their carefree ability to take off like that, leaving me at the tender age of 16, to care for the family dog and hold the fort down (ooooooh, that reminds me of a funny story about our highly neurotic dog, and his reaction to my parents leaving town). I’m not sure that I will ever be that care free.

Next year, I vow to take my family off the grid. Where no computer can be found. I bet it’s actually really hard to find such a place. I want to re-enact those day of youth, where we went to the same campsite every second year. My parents would circle the site, looking for the ultimate spot. We popped up the trailer, fiddled with the dial on the radio to find the station we would be listening to for the next two weeks, played scrabble and/or Yahtzee every night (it just occurred to me that my parents might have let me win at those games) and hit the beach every morning. I want to smell the bbq, heat generated by coals, not gas. I want our kids to make friends with the kids from the site beside us, those friendships that are almost instant (ahhh, the solidarity of campsite kids is powerful).

I want our kids to see us in the relaxed state. I remember loving the scruffy face of my dad when we were camping. He was off the grid so he didn’t have to shave. I love the memory of my mom in her green Hawaiian mu-mu and flip-flops, preparing picnics for the beach. I remember thinking that I had died and gone to heaven because all nutritional morals were tossed for those two weeks, junk food reined for me, while my parents ate sea food almost every night.

Remind me to thank my folks for those great times.

**update – last night I asked Jo to commit with me two weeks next summer to re-visit my childhood holiday destination. What fun!

***further update, after speaking with my brother the other night he reminded me that those camping trips weren’t all sunshine, unicorns and rainbows. He remembers my parents making us sleep in the back of the Green Machine while they got to slept in the tent. It was stiflingly hot the van and we couldn’t open the windows because the bugs were so bad. Ha ha, that would be considered child abuse today!


Nat said...

I was supposed to be off today but ended up "working from home" all day. (Le sigh.) Same thing ended up happening a week ago Friday, I got a call on the 401. (Now, in both these cases I was ok because I wasn't doing anything... but still it's the point of the thing.)

However, when I left I made it clear that I would not be answer calls from work or any emails. If they were desperate they could leave a message and I would judge the situation...

We used to go "Home" in the summer, back down east. It wasn't awful... but it wasn't fabulous either. I wish we'd explored more. Still, this year we didn't go east, and you, know it didn't really feel like summer.

XUP said...

Ya, you might want to do something a little less rugged. Camping is never as much in reality as it is in imagination land. But I understand a lot of people love it -- bugs and all. I think as long as you disconnect from technology, it doesn't matter exactly where you go, but that getting away from the phone, TV, Internet, emails, etc., etc. -- that's important and refreshing.