North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

March 26, 2014

Commentary: Bad vacation attitudes won't last forever

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

NORTH JEFFERSON — You’re halfway through spring break and I’m sure some parents are ready to send their children back to the schoolhouse.

I don’t get to take off the week of spring break, but for the ones of you who do, make sure you’re making some memories with those kids of yours to last a lifetime.

Can you remember some of the vacations your family took? As a child, my mom and dad both worked full-time jobs, plus my dad was a pastor of a church, so there were few times when we got to set out for a week, but when we did, we always tried to make the most of it. Every year they would set aside at least a few days for the family to leave the tri-county area and take a vacation.

When your parents work and you stay in daycare through spring break, it really puts a damper on the fun. You still have to wake up at 6 a.m. to be at school at your regular time, but at least you got to wear casual clothes during that week.

But on family vacation, you were allowed to lay back and have a little fun. One of our family vacations that produced the most memories was when I was 14 years old. My parents had suffered through a timeshare pitch for hours so that we could enjoy a vacation that included the beautiful beaches of Destin, Fla., and a few days at Disney World. At 14 years old (I know it’s hard to believe) I was a total brat. So the beaches were fun for a few days, but it rained the entire time we were at the Magic Kingdom. That’s right, we have plenty of pictures of the whole family draped in bright yellow rain ponchos. In these photos, everyone else in the family is smiling as if this were their favorite vacation of all times, but I am huffing with my arms crossed and a literal frown on my face. Do you have any idea how ugly a frown truly is in a picture? I do, and it’s plastered in all of our Disney World photo albums.

Not to be outdone, the following year, when I was 15, our family made our way out West. My dad grew up in Arizona and thought the perfect family vacation would surely take place in his old stomping grounds.

This was right about the time that the movie Tombstone had made its debut ­— the greatest movie of all time, in my personal opinion. My parents, being the coolest parents in the world, made a stop at Tombstone, Ariz., so that I could enjoy the scenes of the town and see how it played into the movie. That was the absolute best part of any vacation I’ve ever experienced. I can still remember the smells of our hotel room that was decked out in western decorations based on the life of Doc Holliday. I remember seeing the actual spot that Marshal Fred White was shot and looking at the splender of the Bird Cage Theater and the OK Corral. Oh this family vacation thing was really looking up at this point.

But the days of driving got longer and I hadn’t seen my boyfriend for over a week and I was starting to turn into the brat that we all knew still lived inside.

My dad has numerous stories from his childhood of the Grand Canyon; this was sure to the be yet another fun turn for this vacation... in his mind.

When our car finally reached a stop at the edge of the Grand Canyon, I remember like it was yesterday. I walked to the edge of one of the greatest natural wonders of the world and declared, “Yeah Dad, it’s a big hole. What’s the big deal?”

I’m not sure what all went through my father’s mind at that moment, but at this point in my life I would like to personally thank him for not punting me into the middle of the canyon while yelling, “Good riddance!”

Looking back, I can’t believe that my parents allowed me to live through many of our family vacations with the attitude that I brought. But even with all of the huffing and puffing, we have some great stories of those days and the family loves to bring up the way I acted and reacted when we tried to have family fun. All of those days of misery have really paid off for me. There is nothing I’d rather do now than load up with my whole family and set our sails in one direction for a huge vacation.

You learn to appreciate things a lot more when you have to provide for them yourselves and you see what all goes into those little week-long excursions.

So if you have a temperamental child who has pushed every one of your buttons on the vacation this week, remember, there is still hope for that little brat. It may not come for another 20 years, but you will look back and laugh at the fun times you were still able to have.