The elusive American vacation

The elusive American vacation

Maybe it goes back to the Chevy Chase movie Vacation. The odyssey of the American family in search of a bonding moment in a week after spending the whole year on different channels, different rooms, different floors. We are a modular people now and this applies to our families. We no longer sit in the same room and watch the same shows. We scatter to our individual viewing areas and then meet perhaps for a texting dinner below as we continue with the artifice of our lives. So we decided to take a vacation.

Now nobody can change the channel, although some try. You never really believed that a vacation as a kid was that bad. Then you endured the fun vacations in nature or on a lake or in a camp. Mom and Dad did whatever it took while you counted the days. Then you become a father and you understood what mom and dad were doing all the time: they were busting their asses. This is the shock of modern America vacations … it’s downright exhausting.

Involuntary participants are only part of the vacation. Add a teenager and now you’ve got hell on wheels. Holidays are supposed to be the best time … a respite from everyday life. Statistically, Americans no longer go on vacation. They take a three-day mini-vacation. The classic two-week vacation of yesteryear is practically extinct. People just don’t disconnect for that long. But even taking a week is against the norm and suddenly you find yourself working harder than ever at work.

Worst of all, you’re trying to catch something that might be difficult to reach if it doesn’t exist. You’re trying to find a time when your family can exist on its own without television, iPods, cell phones, PDAs, texting mania. This is no small feat. There are few places where a cellular signal can no longer reach. Texting only requires a weak signal for the children’s burst of communication to get through. The igloo of the family moment is traversed by these surreptitious shots of the real world and your kids never tune out as they endure Mom and Dad’s fun vacations.

That is sad. Holidays should be the only time when the world is at bay and children and adults can play within the family unit. There are no models for this anymore. Families now exist like spokes on a wheel and with social media those spokes are getting longer and longer. Many times the conversations are three-way, whether we like it or not, with the phone vibrating while having a heartfelt conversation with little Suzie or Johnny. And there may be nothing new under the sun. Teen boredom is as old as the hills and I remember sitting in a cabin by the ocean counting down the days. But I also remember those days as some of the best of my life.

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