So I had a list. It was a very nice list. An impressive list even.
On this list were all the amazing, enriching things I was going to do with the children on “our” summer vacation. Many of them were things we had done with much success and fanfare years before.
So confident was I in this list that I shared it via e-mail with my friends far and wide. We were going to travel far and wide. Bike. Hike. Perhaps canoe? We were going to visit far-flung relatives more often (or ever). We were going to fill our days with enriching activities. Perhaps lessons? Culture?
To date, I have done none of them.
What we did was take it easy this summer. Easy on our wallets. Easy on ourselves.
While we’ve all bought into the idea that the recent downsize in gasoline to a “mere” $3.50 or so a gallon is a real steal — it isn’t. Oh it’s a steal all right, we’re just not the ones doing the stealing.
In essence, this was the “do nothing” summer. After an initial foray all the way to Canada (and back — and only because they MAKE you leave), we parked the car and learned to embrace our own home sweet home.
We didn’t go the state park, or the animal park, or an amusement park. In short, if it involved a “park” or needing to park — we probably didn’t go there.
We did spend a lot of time in our backyard pool. By “we”, I mean the children. I spent a lot of time sitting in the shade as if made of spun sugar and fearful the sun’s rays would turn me to molten goo. I’m about a hairsbreadth away from donning the enormous straw sun hat and muumuu that women are apparently handed at a “certain” age.
We have smelled like sunscreen for three solid months and our daughter’s hair is that peculiar shade of blonde known not as platinum or golden but more like “chlorine.”
We ate ice cream like it was the base of the food pyramid and ingested our body weight in Popsicles. The result being that some of us ended up with more body weight by summer’s end than we may have started with.
We complained when the grass grew too quickly and later, when in drought it didn’t grow at all. We had picnics and pickup games and a cold drink or two (OK more than a few).
We picnicked with friends and family and we camped out again this year.
I’m proud to say I’ve almost gotten the hang of this sleeping outdoors thing. If by “the hang” you mean I whine and carry on so much the first night that most of my camping companions would gladly feed me to the bears if only they could be so fortunate as to find one. As if the bears would have me anyway.
We had countless sleepovers, sometimes hosting entire gaggles (herds?) of children at once. We stayed up and slept in and ate (animal) crackers in bed.
Speaking of beds, our children once logged a solid week of sleeping in sleeping bags in almost every corner of the house EXCEPT their beds. And there was that brief period of time when they slept UNDER them (by choice, I swear).
Now, as summer draws to a close, we are dusting off book bags and rounding up school supplies. Soon the air will grow cold, the pool pump will go silent, and we will return, reluctantly, to the pasty white pallor of Midwesterners in winter.
To warm ourselves for the long winter ahead, we will hoard firewood and memories of all the things we did — and didn’t — do this summer.
We didn’t spend our days in the car. We didn’t stand in long lines. We didn’t eat (much) food that was wrapped in paper and handed through a window. We did make time for family, friends, and memories, too.
If you are fortunate to spend one perfect summer with languid days spent with those that you love — I definitely suggest you do. We didn’t change the world — but we did change our perspectives.
Sometimes it’s not what you do on your summer vacation, but what you DON’T do that really matters.