Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Love Lounge: What were your childhood vacations like?

I once saw a news clip on one of those morning shows instructing parents on how to plan the essential family vacation. A mini television to dangle down like a disco ball. A pint-sized laptop perfect for your pint-sized five-year-old. Even some hand-held video games disguised as “learning tools.”
It's an electronic wonderland. All so the little tykes would have something – anything – to occupy the long and treacherous trip to grandmother’s house.

I scoffed and quickly changed the channel. For some 20 years, my family and I descended on the Deep South not by plane or train, but by our good old-fashioned family Ford. It was bare from the start. A couple suitcases, a pack of snacks and a few blankets and matches to stay warm should the car breakdown on a snowy, icy Tennessee road.
We didn’t have a television or a camcorder to lose ourselves in a fantasy world. Our television was America, just a stone’s throw away through the car window. We marveled at the barren landscape of the wintry Midwest and clapped with glee as we saw the first patches of green grass peek through the northern Alabama red soil. In the early years of our travels, we didn’t even have a CD player in the car. To pass the 20-hour trip, we’d sing everything from The Twelve Days of Christmas (the way it’s supposed to be sung – each person sings one of the 12 days) to my mom’s spectacular rendition of the Broadway hit On The Street Where You Live.

In fact, the most high-tech gadget in our tight yet lovable quarters was rather low-tech by today’s standards. A simple ‘80s tape player. And we didn’t even use it to listen to Paula Abdul or Phil Collins. My sister and I sat in the back seat recording ourselves onto a blank tape. We’d laugh, sing songs (I’d sing loudest and proudest, of course) and sometimes even interview each other. A few years ago, my mother found some of our “early demos,” and we discovered our sessions occasionally broke out in raucous fights, but even through the bitter words, we laughed a sweet, hardy chuckle.

See, we didn’t need to be “occupied” or “distracted” to enjoy the family car ride, and my sister and I didn’t end up climbing the walls of the car by the time we reached the sunny shore, either. In fact, we all looked forward to the ride home. It was the happiest time of the year. We knew we’d be together. And at that moment, we knew that was all we needed.
What were your family vacations like when you were growing up, friends? Did you end up fighting with your siblings in the back seat? Or did you fight for the window seat on the plane? What's your favorite vacation memory? I'd love to hear all about it! xoxo

[Photos from one of my favorite movies]


  1. I think the best gifts I got from my parents were our family vacations–after Christmas we'd sit down and choose a country (the only guideline: no English). My dad and I both celebrate our birthdays in August, so usually the trip was also a birthday celebration. I'll never forget ringing my 16th birthday in on the lawn of a French castle, or the 17th birthday in Cuba!

  2. We always went camping for a couple of weeks. It meant swimming whenever we wanted, campfires, smores, and riding our bikes. Best vacations ever.

    I love the tribute to Clark Griswold. I honestly think his character was based off of my dad. We even had the station wagon, affectionately called "The wagon queen family truckster!"

  3. We didn't take vacations in my family - just day trips. We visited Disneyland quite a few times - love! :)

  4. My family went everywhere in an RV. There were 6 of us, to expensive to get a hotel was the claim. Like I said, we went everywhere in that thing...Yellowstone, Canada, Texas and we went camping just about any weekend during summer vacation. But of course being 4 sisters we fought like crazy and whenever Dad had enough listening to us he would make us sit between the driver and passenger seat and hug each other...and it worked every time...
    Wow! Thanks for bringing those memories back...


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