Vacation shmacation

English: Pensacola Beach, FL, June 12, 2005 --...

English: Pensacola Beach, FL, June 12, 2005 — Empty orange bucket in the sand at the beach suggesting vacation or leisure time. Fema Photo/Leif Skoogfors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I recently read an article about the benefits of vacations. In addition to the obvious things like relaxation, a break from work and chores, family time, leisure time, and seeing new places and trying new things, there are health benefits such as lower blood pressure and lower incidence of heart disease among people who vacation annually. The article I read didn’t actually cite the study that found these benefits, so I don’t know if they determined somehow that these health benefits were larger than we’d get from merely having ample leisure time and recreation at home. Whatever the case, between the health benefits and the psychological ones (which aren’t exactly unrelated!), going on vacation seems an attractive prospect.


So why am I dreading our annual beach trip?


Well, since you asked–
I have the good fortune to have grown up in a vacation destination. It’s a resort area, and my father still lives there. He can’t be bothered to get on a plane and fly to see me, nor can he bear to see his grandchildren only rarely without passionate, frequent, and loud complaint, so we load up our clan into our van and make a day-long drive to see him every summer, and we call it a vacation. It IS a vacation, technically, since the kids are out of school and my husband is off from work and I have an excuse to make easy, lazy meals that are less nutritious but easier to prepare than what I make at home. We have more time to spend playing in the water and playing games with each other. Truth be told, for all my annual angst, I always enjoy the trip because I really love the beach and because it’s a vacation.


My relationship with my father is–shall we say–strained, largely because he has never been remotely kind or respectful or welcoming of my husband, has never held back in telling me, my husband, and anyone else who will listen or happens to be within earshot what he thinks of us, and disapproves of every decision I’ve made in my adult life. My relationship with his wife, while cordial at the moment, is one I’d break in a heartbeat to free myself from her nearly psychotic delusions of importance, insult, and grievance if I could only do so without ruining what’s left of my relationship with him. Right now, she claims to love me and have a complete life only because I’m willing to let her be part of mine. Two months ago, she was sending me frequent, unprovoked, belligerent emails and text messages, lying to me about things my brother said about me, and lying to my father about things I said to her. He claims it was all a misunderstanding. I think it was a drama queen perfecting her craft. And in just a few short weeks, I get to immerse myself in the drama and see how I can manage it, with nothing but my entire future relationship with my father hanging in the balance. Based on how I get along–or don’t–with my dad, you’d think I wouldn’t really care to put up with her for his sake. But I do. Because he’s my dad. And the burden of being someone’s child is that you always care what they think of you, and you always want to win their approval or their affection. And he does that thing that mean people do where he’s horrible, and then he’s nice, and how do you walk away while he’s being nice? I mean, he hasn’t done anything, right? So if I give up on him when he’s behaving well, then I’m the source of the breach, not him. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it feels. It’s amazing how much power people have over us when we care about them, and it’s amazing how resilient that caring is.


So, I have to let my kids’ enthusiasm for the trip suffice for the whole family. And really, it does, because they think this is just a big fun trip to a giant-sized water park and sandbox. And when I see their enthusiasm, I can’t let my own dread overshadow it. So we’ll go to the beach, and I’ll smile and nod and pretend that I want to be there and wonder if it even counts as a vacation. Maybe I can think of it as a summer drama camp for adults like the ones they have for kids. I’ll give it a try.




What are the Benefits of Taking a Vacation?



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