The Real Value of a Vacation

- by Dianne Drake

 Just back from a mountain vacation where I did absolutely nothing but lounge and gaze at the scenery, I’m not ready to get back to work. But isn’t that always the way? You need a vacation to recover from your vacation?

So, what’s the point of going in the first place? Honestly, no matter how long your little escape turns out to be, it’s never long enough. Please, give me just one more day. Then there’s the exhaustion factor, that dead weight that just keeps hanging on and on and on days or weeks afterwards, even if you haven’t so much as lifted your little finger during your time off. Could somebody lift that margarita to my lips? Also, there’s the overwhelming feeling that if only you could live in vacation mode for the rest of your life, your life would be perfect. Oh, the good life… It’s so nice for a few days, even for a week or two, then it’s back to the same ol’ grind you left behind and, trust me, nothing inside that grind has changed.

So, let me repeat myself. What’s the point? Well, for me, the point was to spend quality time with family. Let me tell you right now that vacationing with adult kids isn’t much different from vacationing with little kids. No matter how old they are, they still get hungry and whine for snacks, they still get bored and want to know when they can go play, they still want mom to pick up their dirty clothes. And the trip there – thank God for the Angry Birds app on my phone and my Kindle, or I’ll swear I’d have had a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds beating up each other in the back seat.


OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Nobody wanted my Kindle. They wanted my computer games. And we took a couple of cars because they really all couldn’t get into my back seat. The thing is, we had quality time, all of it coming in different levels and forms. I claimed the early mornings on the deck, watching the sun come up over the mountains, all by myself. I did some writing – not as much as I’d promised myself I’d do. And I did even more thinking (while they slept in). The neat thing was, we were under the same roof, and that consumed my thoughts probably more than anything else. What I realized was that, as a family, we haven’t changed substantially, except for the addition of some pounds and a few people – spouses and extended members.

The really neat things was, we’d had this vacation before, probably twenty years ago and, in some ways, it was like we simply stepped right back into it. We went to the same places, sought out the same restaurants, indulged in many of the same experiences we did way back when. In fact, we were so busy seeking out the old we hardly got around to anything new. Except, in a way, we were all new. Older, wiser, gone on to other ventures and adventures in our lives. Still, in so many ways, we were that same family.

And that was the real point of our vacation, something I pondered one of those mornings on the deck when the rest of them were still sleeping. We were there to remind us of who we are, not so much as individuals, but as a family. We’re all adults, we have separate ways, but on the last night, when we dined at the restaurant that was literally built over a mountain stream – the restaurant we dined at on our last night there 20 years ago – that’s when I realized that the tie that bound us as a family all those years ago still binds. Sure, it’s different now. We have Angry Birds, electronic books and computer games, we all have careers, we all can’t fit comfortably into the same car. But those things don’t matter. Thomas Wolfe might have said you can’t go home again, and maybe, in some ways, you can’t. But you can sure vacation again and, in a very important way, that’s part of home. So important, in fact, that we’ve just booked the same cabin for another family vacation later this year. I’ll swear, though, that if I ever hear another one of those insidious laughs from Angry Birds…


  1. Dianne, it’s all so true. I had a family vacation five years ago. Children, spouses and two babies. We ended babysitting most of the time, feeding and napping the babies, but it was lovely. At least that’s what I remember after five years. Maybe we should do it again, and then take a real vacation with my husband and no one else.

  2. We’re still in the “early vacation” stage. We packed in the 17-year-old son and the 11-year-old daughter for Spring Break in March. Orlando was a very long drive from Indiana!

    We made memories, though, and Cocoa Beach, Mickey Mouse, and that Harry Potter exhibit at Universal were all something to see. :)