What a beautiful word–“vacation.” We are going on vacation. We will vacate our house for a short time. Our daughter, Anna, will house sit, making it possible for us to leave. We are going to relax, rest, reinvigorate, renew, restore, replenish, and all those “re” words that mean making a new start. To get away, to let go of the daily work routine, to have a change of pace, and to refresh ourselves in mind, body, and spirit–that is what vacation means to me.
My first husband, James Robinson, was a hard working man who did not take vacations. He worked after his day’s work, always having a second or third job. He taught school and he coached tennis and football after school. After his day of teaching and coaching he came home to take up his carpentry tools and work on our house–the one we were building at the time. I, too, was workaholic and some would say that I still am workaholic, if they didn’t know how much my work is like high play. James and I enjoyed our achievements. We were thrilled to build the next house, have the next child, earn the next degree, or help with the next church project. I suppose we were really busy but it didn’t seem so at the time. It was the way we lived. I thought it was the way to happiness. We were very much into delayed gratification. We would have taken a vacation eventually, had he not died. So, I think of James and his short but jam-packed life today as I am planning this trip to New Mexico with Paul.
When Paul and I married, we took a trip. We came home and gathered up the four children and took another trip. We were married four weeks and the University sent Paul to a meeting in Oklahoma, so we took the children on another trip. We visited Paul’s family in Nebraska, which meant trips at Christmas. We took vacations in the summer with trips to Disneyland, Normangee and other points in Texas, Lake of the Ozarks, and Alabama. These vacation trips are still lodged in my family memory bank as high points in our life together.
My parents were hard working, too. Daddy farmed and was a carpenter and Mother was a school teacher. Both were active in church every Sunday so they rarely took vacations. I remember two trips as a child. One was a trip to Ruidoso and Cloudcroft, NM and the other was to Weslaco, TX in the lower Rio Grande valley. They moved to Weslaco, living there more than twenty years. After their retirement, they moved again to Kingsland, TX. My Mother referred to their life in Kingsland as “Paradise.” With their newfound freedom from daily jobs, they bought a travel trailer and took many well deserved vacation trips. Each summer, after they harvested the garden and canned or froze their year’s crop, they would hook up the trailer and take off on their vacation. They enjoyed being gone for two or more weeks, took hundreds of photographs of many places in nature, like Yellowstone park. They loved to go to Colorado, where the weather was cooler than central Texas.
Our vacations have taken us to France, to Egypt, to Alaska, and many states. Afterward, I am ready to set new goals and create more possibilities. Whenever I take a few days away from my work and the daily routine of our home life, I come back home with new energy, and refreshed mind. I am looking at the possibilities for our week in New Mexico. I plan to explore Ruidoso Downs, the horse racetrack that has always been closed when we went there for our winter ski trips. We might take a side trip to the Iris Farm, and we will surely have one meal at the Lodge in Cloudcroft. We always enjoy shopping in the small town dedicated to tourists. The candle store, the French restaurant, and all the fun places where we have had great family times since we first went in the 1980’s are on my list of things to do. I have left lots of open time for walking, talking, reading, games, and naps.
Vacation is pronounced “vay kay shun” and it derives from the latin Vacare, which means “be free or empty”, this is the same word we get vain from too. Wikipedia’s etymology says: In the United Kingdom, vacation once specifically referred to the long summer break taken by the law courts and, later, universities—a custom introduced by William the Conqueror from Normandy where it facilitated the grape harvest. In the past, many upper-class families moved to a summer home for part of the year, leaving their usual family home vacant.
These words–vacant, vain, vacation– suggest absence, self-serving, through taking a trip to somewhere else. Sooooo…….We are going to take a summer vacation. I am hoping our home will not be vacant. I trust that this will facilitate the grape harvest. See you after Labor Day!