Kirk, I don't know if you're retired yet, or just contemplating it, but you raise an excellent point. If you're not working, how can you take a vacation?
I bet a lot of you -- those who have just returned home from Thailand or Tucson or Texas, for example -- may have your own view on the matter. But for me to answer the question I have to take a slight detour.
I remember when I was working I once took a stay-at-home vacation. I looked forward to cleaning out the basement, fixing a window frame in the garage that had rotted out, and doing some yard work. I wanted to build a fence around our garden to keep out the raccoons, the deer, and whatever else was gobbling up our vegetables.
So I made arrangements to take a week off from work. During the first weekend, my wife and I just did our usual activities with the family. Then, on Monday, I figured I could luxuriate for a while in my free time. After all, I was on vacation! I planned to get up late, relax over a long breakfast, maybe read the paper, then start in on my work around the house.
Instead, on Monday, my wife decided that I should drive our daughter to pre-school, while she took care of the baby. This would give her a much-needed break. Oh, and how about picking up a few groceries on the way home.
So that morning, as usual, I gulped down a cup of coffee, then instead of rushing off to work, I rushed my daughter off to pre-school. After that I went to the grocery store. I had to go to the gas station; and then stop at Home Depot pick up some shelves and some bins for the basement.
|My basement today: What's my excuse now?|
At the time we had a standing date with a babysitter on Wednesday evenings. It was a night out for my wife and me. But that Wednesday I decided I was falling behind and better get some work done. So my wife went to the movies with one of her girlfriends, while I was chopping away at rotten wood in the garage, then sawing boards and trying to slot them into the window frame. I got halfway done before my wife came home, the babysitter left, and I hit the shower to wash off the dirt and grime and tend to a few scrapes and scratches.
I did finally get the window fixed that week. Then I started on the garden fence -- although I ran out of time and ended up taking a few shortcuts, so the fence was never put in to proper specifications. My fence did keep out some casual visitors to the garden; but never the determined residents of my yard. We got some vegetables that year, but fewer than I'd envisioned.
By the end of the week I was exhausted and frustrated. And that was the last time I ever took a vacation and stayed at home. Because when you stay home, it's no vacation at all.
After that experience, we spent vacations at the beach, or we went to visit grandma and grandpa, or we'd go for a week at a family-type resort. We'd go anywhere just to get away from our normal routine, have some real time off -- and so I wouldn't have to spend a week trolling around the basement and garage and digging in the dirt.
Now, many years later, people ask me: If you're not working, if you don't have responsibility for kids, how can you go on vacation? Aren't you on vacation all the time?
The answer is no. Because when you're home you still have your routine and your responsibilities. Maybe it's not a job. But it might be your volunteer work. Maybe it's not the kids; but it might be your grandchildren. And you still have a house to take care of -- or at least I do. And the car to fix, and the bills to pay, and dinner to cook and dishes to wash, and beds to make and groceries to buy.
So Kirk, take some advice from this grizzled old veteran: If you want a vacation, a real care-free vacation, go away from home.