The Family Vacations We Never Took

Boomers fondly (or not so fondly) remember family vacations. I wasn’t one of those kids. Summers passed in our household void of getaways and memories. I watched neighbors leave on summer vacations – wondering what it was like. There are a lot of you out there with the same story. Struggling single income households with little for anything else or parents who were just not motivated enough to even consider a family vacation.

Our suburban Washington, D.C. household was both – neither the cash nor the motivation to vacation.

My father was not a family man. He liked his time alone. His thing was watching the ball game and reading his James Michener novels while puffing on a cigarette and sipping on a cold can of Bud’. My mother used to refer to my father as a “man’s man…” To this day I am not sure what that meant aside from understanding he was never up for family life. That’s what I knew as a child.

I don’t begrudge my parents for not taking vacations. We simply could not afford them. I suspect we were like a lot of families – too cash tight to take a vacation while struggling to make the monthly bills. It was a second marriage for both parents coupled with a birth father who didn’t understand the importance of child support. Our stepfather did the best he could under very difficult circumstances. We also lacked the unity of a family who wanted to be together. We lived under the same roof but lived separate lives.

Does this sound like the life you may have had growing up?

You may be able to relate to this – or perhaps you can’t. You can choose your friends – however – you can’t choose your relatives. Never more has this been truer than in the complex relationships we have with our siblings and our parents. The emotional scars you receive in childhood can last a lifetime. Time and time again, we meet people who were brought up under similar circumstances.

This was why family vacations were so important when we were children – even if it was a short day trip to the beach or to the mountains. Family vacations were a way for families to bond and – more importantly – to remember the good times. This is undoubtedly the greatest gift you can hand your grandchildren today – especially if you never made these memories to begin with. It is never too late to make new memories in a different kind of family vacation you can take today.

One thought on “The Family Vacations We Never Took”

  1. My father took vacations he could write off. We vacationed at the spots between home and some destination. We also went to a hardcore (working) dude ranch a couple of times, and if I know my father he wrote those off somehow. If we drove through Yellowstone and other natural wonders on the way to sawmills in the Pacific Northwest, who knew? If we drove all over New Mexico and Colorado going to ghost towns and he sold a few pictures and a story to a magazine or two (one of his side hustles) then it got expensed. This never bothered us, or him, because the trip was the thing. We even drove halfway across the country to visit a guy my father flew 25 missions over Germany with so they could eat dinner and shoot the shit. I don;t know if he expensed that one, but it seemed to be good for him. However bonding, with my mother in the mix, meant the rest of us seeking shelter from one of her storms, not the picnic and blue skies.


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