Christmas vacation plans, anyone?
It’s starting already. Whenever a school break looms, the calendar days gapingly empty and devoid of the regular nine to three tolling of the school bell, that question: “So, what are you up to for the holidays?”
If you pay close attention, this question comes almost exclusively from those who actually have vacation plans for the upcoming break, since posing this question provides them with a segue into their plans after you answer, “Not much, how about you?”.
This is a tad facetious, since holiday plans are not a bad conversation starter, especially among those whose answer to the question might be “We’re going to Kauai for the first time, have you ever been?” and they are off to the races talking about the pros and cons of islands in Hawaii.
These lucky soon-to-be vacationers obviously have travel on the brain, having had to load up with sunscreen or ski goggles, as the case may be, in preparation for their trip, so innocently may think everybody flies off to exotic destinations when faced with two weeks of having no teachers to babysit their children. Let’s face it, the alternative is not so rosy. After the first day of sitting around in your pajamas watching old Christmas DVD’s, the kids start getting on each others nerves, which gets on the parents nerves, which makes us all throw on our boots and coats and head out into the miserable rain or snow or slush and then things really go downhill.
I am sensitive to the topic of actually going somewhere on your school break, since my parents chose to have numerous children instead of implementing a holiday budget (luckily for me since I was the last of the nine kids, I got life whereas my siblings never got Disney World). We never went anywhere. I hated that first day back after spring break where classmates would show up sporting tans and even worse, stories of their travels. I was green with jealousy.
Inadvertently rubbing salt into my wounds, my family finally planned a vacation, but it went awry. When I was in high school, my parents announced we would be going to Quebec’s Winter Carnival for spring break. A twelve hour drive, but still, a great destination. I was jubilant, overjoyed, and ran around asking all of my classmates what they were doing for their break, barely letting them answer before blurting out “well WE’RE going to the Quebec Winter Carnival!” However my mother contracted a brutal case of the flu on the road, so we holed up in Edmundston New Brunswick for the week. My dad did drive us over the Quebec border, so we could say we had been there. And the Edmundston Ho Jo had an indoor pool where I learned my back dive, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. But I have been careful not to gloat ever since.
Likely I am marred by my childhood experiences, and overly sensitive to this question, when people are just saying what first comes to their mind. I should grow up, not be so judgmental, be happy for them. I know this, and will tell my own children to do exactly this when they complain that we are not going anywhere. I will tell them to think of all the people who have so little, and be happy for what we do have.
After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year; there are good times to be had without leaving your house; magical moments abound. But unabashedly I would rather be having these moments in Mexico; and news flash for all of those who pose the question: so would we all.
So please: if you have holiday plans and I am in your midst, put a lid on it.