Last week I spent three days on vacation.
It’s not my best thing.
I was a little panicky when my wife broached the subject of gathering all our kids and grandkids at a resort for a few days in lieu of giving them Christmas presents. It seemed like a solid concept; we’ve all reached the point where we have enough stuff. What we could always use more of is memories, and this seemed like an opportunity to build up some pretty good ones. I was just a little concerned about what was going to fill all those daylight hours.
I don’t really know how to do the things you’re supposed to do on vacation. I’m pretty good on road trips – finding my way through strange cities, stopping to read historical markers, talking about the weather with convenience store clerks, etc. But when it comes time to go to a resort and hang out for a few days, I’m at a loss.
I think when everyone else was practicing golf, polishing up their poker skills, and learning how to drive those dumb looking plastic paddle boats, I was busy doing - you know, I’m not sure what I was busy doing. Back in the ’80s, when I was at the age when I was supposed to be developing hobbies, there was a farm, three little kids, and a lot else going on. On the other hand, most people are busy, and they’ve managed to develop hobbies.
Maybe I don’t have the hobby gene. Whenever I’ve played golf I’ve enjoyed it, but if someone said, “OK, now you do this once a week all summer,” I would look at him with profound puzzlement. Same thing with every other recreational-type thing I’ve ever done.
I come by this failing honestly. When I was a kid, we traveled if we had some time off. Not very often, what with the profit margin of farming in the ’60s, but we went to Yellowstone Park, the West Coast, and Boston, not to mention the state fair a couple of times. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s pretty much all I can come up with - not really so much for a span of a couple of decades, and there were no golf lessons or tennis junkets of any kind. I do recall a couple of ventures fishing for northerns on Long Tom Lake and bullheads by the dam at the foot of Big Stone Lake, but that’s about all the recreating I can remember, unless you count smuggling fireworks across the South Dakota border on the Fourth of July.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry about my lack of hobby prowess. The grandchildren had their first horseback ride, their first trip on a pontoon boat, the mandatory s’mores feast in the backyard of the cabin, and, the highlight of the trip, a lengthy kickball game, made more complicated by being played in a forest and with a 4-year-old’s flexible definition of the location of second base.
This wasn’t a completely stuff-free trip – my wife bought the kickball and our son and his wife purchased some sidewalk chalk – but all in all, we were short on stuff and long on memories.
All of them good.
Copyright 2013 Brent Olson