Every August—right after swim team season ended—my dad took his two weeks of vacation and we traveled north to spend a week with my dad’s family in Maine and a week with my mom’s family in Massachusetts. Sometimes the order was reversed, but we always went to the same places.
The night before we left, my brother Rick and I dressed in tomorrow’s clothing so our parents could carry us to the car, still half-asleep, hours before dawn. Dad did all of the driving, and usually made it a good way toward New England before Rick and I woke up and began fighting over whether we’d listen to Annie (my choice) or to the mix tape that came with our Crown Victoria (Rick’s pick).
As a kid, I had mixed feelings about these trips. I liked spending time with my relatives, but I was jealous of my friends whose families went to the beach or skiing or to Disney. Other than a few camping trips, we never went on vacation, other than visiting relatives.
Now I appreciate the way my parents chose to invest our family’s time. I may have lived 500 miles away from my grandparents, aunts, and uncles, but I always felt close to them. Dad set an example about the importance of family by putting family first. Just like he set an example about the value of reading not by lecturing, but by being a voracious reader himself.
I’ve driven enough of those New England trips now to know how exhausting they are, and how easy it would have been for my dad to choose not to do it. And he never complained about making that drive. (Except when we got to about hour 13 and Rick and I began heated disputes over the middle seat. And any frustration Dad vented then was totally justified.)
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Thank you for taking us on all of those vacations. And for everything else.
This was a little something I wrote for my Dad for Father’s Day, originally published in my church newsletter.