So it’s less than a week until Spring Break and my family still isn’t sure what it’s doing. We’ve talked about jumping in the car and heading west to hit the slopes.  We’ve discussed going to visit family in Dallas for a few days.  We’ve thought about doing a couple day trips around the area.  I, personally, have considered locking everyone out of the house and laying in the middle of the floor with a big box of Cadbury Cream Eggs.  Lots of possibilities, but still no concrete plans.

When I was a kid we didn’t always do a big trip for Spring Break.  We usually just slept in, ran around barefoot, drank from the hose, rode our bikes without helmets and did a hundred other things that would probably forever scar the children of today.  If we did go somewhere it was to visit my grandmother in St. Pete’s, Florida.  We’d pile into my mom’s station wagon and spend 8 hours rolling around in the way back (who used seat belts?) listening alternately to a Garfield tape and a Smurf tape over and over and over and over again.  Sometimes we’d play license plate bingo or the alphabet game just to spice things up! Upon arrival we’d tumble out of the back, change into our bathing suits and stay that way for the rest of the trip.  We’d get slathered in Tropicana sun block and go from pool to beach to pool to beach until we were sunburned and exhausted, and then stay up until way past bedtime talking on the screened in porch and eating frozen grapes.

In high school Spring Break became an escape with our friends.  Again we’d pile into cars and drive south to the beach. Again we’d tumble out and slide into our bathing suits and head for the nearest body of water. This time however, we’d be covered in Banana Boat Tanning Oil and have Sun-In dripping from our hair. My friends and I spent endless hours in the sand planning out our lives, solving the world’s problems, figuring out who we would trade bathing suits with for the next day, and never ever running out of things to say. My mom would usually come along as chaperone, and one of my best memories is sitting at Shuck-Em’s Oyster Bar, just the two of us, watching the sun go down over the water. My senior year my best friend and I took a “solo trip” together.  We knew that our time together was dwindling, and we wanted to pack in as much bonding as we could.

Once I started college Spring Break became a way of reconnecting with friends. LIfe and school made things pretty busy, so we spent the first few breaks just being away as a group. Talking, laughing, eating way too much Mexican food and just finding ways to celebrate being free from the pressures of life for a little while. Adult life started to creep into Spring Break later in college. Then that week was spent driving places for job interviews, looking for places to live, planning a wedding  and getting things ready for transitioning into (gulp) adulthood.

Here-do you want the sad truth?  When you graduate…Spring Break DIES.  Work starts and doesn’t stop for summer or most holidays. You look back with great longing (and a bit of bitterness at the fact that tanning oil is now basically banned) and wonder if you’ll ever have that joy of 9 DAYS OFF IN A ROW again.

And then….cue the arrival of offspring. Once they get old and self-sufficiently-fun enough that you don’t partially dread the not-going-to-school-for-a-week thing….Spring Break is resurrected!  You get to experience the delicious anticipation of NOT having to deal with regularly scheduled stress…and instead find yourself under the sweet pressure of getting to choose how you can relax and make this week a real break for the family!

It is at that junction I sit right now. What would be best for us next week? During my little stroll down Spring Break Memory Lane a couple of things occurred to me that I believe might help me with this decision:

The times that stand out most in my mind are those spent with people. I can’t really remember what the pools or the beaches looked like…and what places we went which years are kind of a blur too.  However, I can clearly remember the sound of my grandmother’s laugh in the dark.  I can hear my best friend’s voice calling me “Shenanigans” like it was this morning. Every word to the Garfield soundtrack is burned into my mind and it makes me smile when I remember the sound of my mom, brother and I singing along.

I also remember the differet and new experiences…the funny minute details shared with someone special. The unexpected cold burst when a frozen grape popped in my brother’s mouth and my grandma and I laughing at his face. The first taste of a shared slice of real Key Lime Pie and how we swore we would never go back to the frozen kind. The disgusting slimy feel of an oyster in my mouth, and my mom laughing so hard she spit out her drink. The time we pet an alligator and looked at each other to make sure we were both crazy. My first super-turbulant plane flight and the claw-marks my friend and I left on each other’s arms as we skirted the “Storm of the Century”….and how we had to sit in the chairs at the airport upon arrival for a long time before we were ready to move again.

It’s the people, the relationships, and the ability to share experiences that make memories. That can happen on a mountain or at the city zoo. I just need to make sure that we are THERE. Wherever we are. That we put down devices and look into faces.  That we talk, and just as importantly, listen when someone else does. That we ALL try new things and compare experiences.

The DVD player doesn’t need to run all the way to Colorado–there are things to see!  Those headphones don’t need to cover ears….there are things to chat about! And I have nothing against “movie nights”…but instead of allowing them to be a chance to zone out from each other at the end of day….they’re going to be something we ALL want to see and a time where ALL of us are engaged together watching the same flick–even if it is Sharknado–and none of us (parents included!) are on devices. We can all hate the movie together!

So…what are we doing for Spring Break this year?

We’re connecting.
We’re “breaking from busy” together.
We’re sharing moments.

I’m still not sure if we’ll be in ski clothes, bathing suits or shorts and a t-shirt….but I think that part doesn’t really matter so much. What does matter is US.  And finding a place to get homemade ice cream every night.


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