It is with the ever so smallest guilt that I tell you that for the next two months I will be vacationing...at home. One cannot vacation at home you say? Oh yes, one certainly can. My brain is abounding with hopes of possible accomplishments for the next two months, so much that I am sure I will end up creating a foolproof list and schedule in order to ensure that I reach my desired outcomes. But as you sit there reading this, envying my freedom, do so modestly as I express to you what my "vacation" will actually consist of.
See, growing up a "vacation" for the Lunetta family consisted of a three day, two night stay in Lancaster, PA. The highlight of going away for my brothers and me was the indoor pool at our luxurious hotel, "Willow Valley" and a day spent at Lancaster's only theme park: Dutch Wonderland. That was the extent of our summer vacation. We may have had a total of two other "day trips" thrown into the mix (and those were usually to somewhere like Storybook Land and/or the Philadelphia Zoo). Stop staring in awe at your computer screen and snap out of it because I'm not kidding. At twenty-five-years-old, I've still never been to Disney World (or Land for that matter) and my honeymoon was my first week long vacation. Once we got lucky and my parents took us to Virginia and D.C. and even then the stay was days short of a week (not to mention the historical themes constantly surrounding every single activity we did--mind you I was about ten).
That said, you must understand that this word "vacation" to me literally means time off from work. It doesn't mean getting to travel or go somewhere that signifies relaxation and/or fun. It means that I get to have a change in my normal routine or activities, yet I am not necessarily free of all cares.
While some might see this as a horrid and ugly thing, I realize its potential and the work ethic it has managed to instill in me. In fact, I've learned a few things through living life practically vacation-less.
1. Being on vacation at home gives me time to get other things accomplished.
As I said before this requires some list making and scheduling. A way I tend to make myself feel horrible is when I build up a lot of wonderful accomplishments in my head and never even set out to begin them. For example, in addition to being a teacher, I like to write, I play piano and violin, I sell jewelry, occasionally make jewelry, I need to exercise, and I wish that I could try out different recipes for dinners and desserts. Realistically, it is impossible for me to do all those things every day while working full-time. Yet, during my "vacation" I certainly can accomplish all those things IF I properly schedule my life. But, if I choose to sleep in each day and waste my potential by lounging about poolside I'll have missed opportunities to build on aspects I want shining through in my life.
2. I don't have to feel guilty being off as my loved ones work if as I am completing my aspirations I also dedicate some time to working diligently at something that will benefit those at work.
There is nothing worse than staring blank minded at my husband when he comes home from work and asks the dreaded question, "So, what did you do today?". Unacceptable. If I can rattle off at least 3-5 major tasks I accomplished during the day, I feel good. It is even better if I have something to show for it (a cleaned out closet, baked goodies, a shining kitchen floor). This isn't to say that everyday needs to consist of working nonstop around the house, but if my husband is busting his butt at work and I am off for two months straight I certainly have no excuse to neglect anything around the house.
3. I can "vacation" in areas surrounding me without spending even a fraction of what I would spend for a week long vacation away from home (and I don't have to pack and unpack for it!)
I understand that people have this want to get away from home for a little and relax. However, the feeling that many have that they "deserve" a week (or longer) vacation to __________ (fill in the blank) is pitiful. We deserve nothing. Especially those of us going into debt over such vacations. In the long run, it really is not worth it.
Don't get me wrong, if I could afford it, I might do it yearly. Even then, I'm not quite sure that a yearly vacation is deserved. But since I can't afford it, I don't. No matter how hard I worked all year long. But, there are so many different things that I can do here or there for fun that will make me still feel as though I "vacationed" during my summer.
Here is my list, some of these I have done, some I have not. Some are specific to areas surrounding NJ, others could be done anywhere!
* Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, NJ)
* A Day at the Beach (*Okay, I know everyone is going to think I am crazy, but, I prefer Atlantic City merely because it is a free beach.)
* Visit a Local Lighthouse
* Yard Sale Search
* Go Antiquing (If you like antiques...)
* A Night at the Beach (*Stay a night, or just go during the night!)
* Drive-in Movie Theater (*$8 per person for a double feature. See www.delseadrive-in.com)
* NYC day trip (Shop, go to Central Park, go visit all the beautiful churches, go to the TKTS booth and see if you can score cheap theater tickets, try a different restaurant with great ratings.)
* Museums--all and any! (There are so many tiny museums out there filled with historical insight. The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton is tiny but entertaining and informative. Right around the corner is the NJ State Museum which is FREE. Also, FYI, The Philadelphia Art Museum is donation only on Sundays.)
* Go to the Local Farmer's Market (*Look for a good deal, or just enjoy walking around looking at what people are trying to sell.)
* A Day at the Pool (*This works especially well if you, well, know someone who has a pool.)
* Shopping (*Obviously, anywhere is great for this, but since it is summer perhaps somewhere outside like an outlet mall would be proper.)
* The Zoo
* The Circus
* Farm Fairs
* Trip to a Lake
* Horse Races (Freehold Raceway and Meadowlands Racetrack for harness racing, Monmouth Park pictured to the right.)
* Visit a Winery
* Camping (At a real campground or in the backyard!)
* Go to see Fireworks (Many beaches do fireworks on a weekly basis.)
Many will stare at me in shock and disbelief when I answer the "Where will you be going this summer" question with, "No where, just staying at home". But truly I am going everywhere. I'm going into the world of cooking as I explore recipes that I didn't have time to get to during the school year. I'm standing in front of a crowded concert hall as I play through an assortment of music that has been screaming out to me from my orange music stand each time I entered my music room. I'm giving my writing legs to run on as I tweak my novel, form new pieces, and blog my thoughts and feelings on a variety of subjects. I'm exploring my surroundings by not allowing Disney World and exotic islands to define what a day or more of vacationing really means.
Hopefully I will manage to not get carried away and have too much fun this summer...