Friends, I don’t know if I will be chatting with you much this week. You see, it’s Spring Break and exactly 47 hours into it the Dynamic Duo announced that they are BORED! I knew that would happen but, I was hoping that it would be at least Tuesday before I had to start providing real entertainment and you would expect that at the very least the weather would cooperate. I am in Texas so, could I at least get warmth and sunshine? Neither. Actually, now that I think about it, we were destined to fail this year for Spring Break revelry because expectations were really, really high. For one thing, last year we spent Spring Break in Disney World, the “Happiest Place on Earth”! We were rock stars for at least six months following that trip. Then, this year, Thing 1 asked if we could go to Hawaii for Spring Break? I giggled and said “No”. “Paris?” I was like “Girl, what?!” She stomped off, regrouped and came back with “Can we go to New York and see a Broadway show?” She wasn’t pleased with my “Just…no.” I do like the fact that she thinks big, though. I tried being upbeat and telling them that we were going to spend quality time together, reading, seeing local attractions, visiting friends “…fun, fun, fun!” I promised. I was met with blank stares. Oh, well.
You know, it dawned on me that when I was younger we didn’t have Spring Break let alone did I ask to go on vacation. We had a four-day weekend around Easter and that was about it until Memorial Day. My father was what you would call frugal and family vacations just didn’t figure into his budget. Now, no sympathy please, because there was one trip that I made every summer with my mom and my aunts. We drove to their home town of Clarkesville, Missouri the first weekend of August for a sort of reunion of friends and family. Never heard of Clarkesville? Well, that’s because it has about 400 residents. Yep, big time! There was one hotel (actually, if I recall correctly it was a motel), a few quaint little shops and my personal favorite – and I’m not being sarcastic – the sky lift! The sky lift would take you from the ground up to one of the bluffs in the hills above. There were a few attractions like one of those topsy-turvy houses that was slanted and crooked so that you couldn’t stand up straight in it. I loved it! Every year I would go to the gift shop (because you know that there had to be one) and buy a container of Mexican Jumping Beans. I was completely fascinated by them. I am slightly embarrassed but, mostly grossed out, to tell you that I just learned about 5 minutes ago that the “jumping” mechanism was controlled by tiny worms inside. Eeeewww! You know, as simple and unimpressive as all of this sounds, it was all good and I have very fond memories of times spent with my family.
Actually, I need to make one correction here. We did, in fact, take one family vacation. When I was about 10 years old, we flew to Connecticut to watch my sister receive her law degree from Yale Law School. That was one trip that one thousand swarming African killer bees could not have kept my father from witnessing, and understandably so.
My husband and I have been trying to impress upon our girls the importance of cherishing little things. Everything doesn’t have to be big and grand to be special. In fact, sometimes the things that are the most precious are often the things that go unnoticed. The other night while enjoying a fine dining experience at What-a-Burger (this time I am being sarcastic) I was telling Thing 1 and Thing 2 about this very thing. I told them that when I was a girl their age, I didn’t get to go out to eat very often. Again, Daddy was what you would call frugal, and going to McDonald’s or this restaurant called Sandy’s that had the best pork tenderloin sandwiches in creation (that actually brought a tear to my eye) was a special treat. However, that didn’t mean that I didn’t have fun with him or enjoy my time with him. In fact, one of my favorite memories of spending time with my dad involves a Grape Ne-hi (remember those?) and a thick cut bologna sandwich. We had moved into a new house and my parents were preparing to rent out our old one. One summer afternoon my dad had some repairs to make before the tenant moved in so, he packed a lunch for me, my brother and himself with thick cut bologna and cheese sandwiches and bags of chips. By the way, I don’t like thick or thin cut bologna but, I certainly wasn’t going to complain and it wouldn’t have done me any good anyway. As a special treat he stopped by a store on the way to the old house and bought my brother and I each a bottle of Ne-hi. I was soooo excited! Now that I think about it, mine was strawberry and my brother’s was grape. I also didn’t get to have pop much…in a can…let alone a big ol’ bottle of Ne-hi. I was totally satisfied as I sat there on the floor of the old house eating my sandwich and chips and swigging on my strawberry pop. No, not pop, that would be ordinary. It was a Ne-hi! After I was done, Daddy taught me how to use a screw driver and hammer. I kind of helped out but, mostly I just went out into the back yard and played. As you can see, that day, in all of its simplicity, has stuck with me and is special because of something so simple as a bottle of pop.
After I relayed that story to the girls, they were mostly underwhelmed and appalled that my parents didn’t let me drink pop whenever I wanted it. I reminded them that they can’t drink pop whenever they want it either, but they were unfazed. Mostly they just looked at me and then Thing 1 said “Why did your dad think it was a good idea to teach a little girl to use a hammer?” in a voice that said that it was the dumbest thing that she had ever heard. “That’s what I was thinking!” added Thing 2. I see that we are going to have this conversation several hundred times over the next ten or so years.
The really cool thing is that I have a lot of warm memories of a time not too long ago, when people like my parents raised kids on a lot less income with a lot less fanfare but, seemingly a lot more satisfaction on the part of both child and the parent. I pray that one day my girls can tell their children of a really special night when they went to What-a-Burger with mom and dad, then went to Petsmart to watch the doggies get groomed, then returned home for ice cream. And it was all good!