Summer Funs… My How Times Have Changed

By Deborah Duncan –

So, I am sitting with a group of my friends, and the subject of summer vacations comes up. One mom is outraged that her daughter had the nerve to say out loud, “Do we have to go back to Italy again? I mean Europe has other countries, you know.” Granted, the continent of Europe has several other countries that would make for a grand vacation, and you can travel from country to country easily, but at what point does a 14-year-old get to complain about going back to, let me salivate as I say this, Italy? I can relate though. My eight-year-old just does not understand why we can’t pop on over to the villa on the beach in Costa Rica for the weekends and fly in his friends.

That opened the flood gates to a whole conversation on what our kids expect today as compared to what many of us grew up with. When I was a kid, summer vacation basically meant that school was out. That’s it, yippee! The closest thing to a “vacation” by today’s standards was a trip to my grandmother’s house in East Texas. It was on a thousand acres in Linden, somewhere between Longview and Marshall. In fact, we had to go to those towns if we wanted to see a movie or eat out at a restaurant other than Dairy Queen. It took us about ten hours to get there in the family trickster, and when we got there, there was nothing to do. If we were going to survive grandma’s, we had to use our imagination and seize any opportunity to turn every day country life into something more exciting. I remember like yesterday sitting on the porch with my little brother. From miles away we could hear a truck travelling up a dirt road. The excitement was building when we thought that truck could be heading our way. Finally, the truck pulled up to the house. A man got out and asked, “Have y’all seen a runaway bull?” You have no idea how awesome that was for two little city kids stuck in the country. We looked for that bull for the duration of our visit. For years after, my brother and I laughed and recounted that story for anyone who would listen. I think the last time we told it, we had actually rustled the bull to the ground!

The point is we did not have the money to take big vacations when I was a kid but still were rich in our life experiences. Even though our big trip was just to grandma’s and the rest of the summer break was spent on the neighborhood streets riding bikes and swimming at the local pool, we still created lasting memories and learned valuable lessons. One mom was not looking forward to the packing of the passports but was more concerned that she would shortchange her kids by not taking that trip abroad. Here’s a suggestion: Rome, Texas or Paris, Texas or Italy, Texas. There are such places. The point is it’s not so much about where you go but rather what you do with the time. As I look over the brochures for my family trip this summer, I’m starting to really like what that girl from Kansas once said. “There’s no place like home.” With the hassle of travelling, that might guarantee a better me.