Summertime means vacation time. I try to take two weeks of vacation over the summer, usually a week in July and a week in August. My week in July is usually the week that includes July 4th. Not only is it a great week to have off from work, but I only have to use four days of vacation time because of the holiday. I have spent the 4th of July on the
for the last 27 years, except for two, maybe three years. I think my kids have missed one 4th of July on the Vineyard in their lives and they’re eighteen and fifteen. island of Martha’s Vineyard
It has been great going to the Vineyard over the years, from the time when the kids were little up to the present. We’ve gone to the beach, we’ve gone to the playground, we’ve gone for ice cream, we’ve gone shopping (more like browsing at all the things we can’t afford) and we’ve gone to the parade on the 4th. But no trip to the Vineyard was complete without going to the Flying Horses. The kids would beg to go there and it was never soon enough for them, even if we went the first day. When they were really young, we had to go on with them and stand next to them, but as they got older they went on their own. As you go around, you grab rings out of a metal device, one for the people on the inside and one for the people on the outside, and as you get better you can do multiple rings at a time. At the end they put in brass rings and two lucky people get to stay on for a free ride. On one incredible day, both of my kids got the brass ring on the same ride and got to go for a free ride! It is truly amazing to see people of all ages on the carousel, many of whom have been riding it since they were kids, like my wife. Even though you can’t keep the rings, everyone does their best to grab as many as they can. The Vineyard, including the Flying Horses, holds many good memories for me, my wife and our kids.
We didn’t really do vacations when I was growing up, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have any fun. We had an above-ground pool in the backyard and we used it a lot. That is, except for the year my younger brother and I decided to spray a hornets’ nest with the hose. We thought it was pretty funny when they couldn’t fly and fell to the ground, but it wasn’t very funny for the week or so afterward when you couldn’t go in the backyard without getting attacked. We played games in the pool, had contests to see who could stay underwater the longest and we made whirlpools and floated along on the current. I don’t know how he did it, but my younger brother could float forever. To this day, I’d be in big trouble if my life depended on me floating for a long time.
We also had a huge tent and my father and older brothers would set it up in the backyard and we’d go “camping”. We’d take our flashlights, sleeping bags and pillows out to our campsite and pretend we were in the middle-of-nowhere. We’d read our Mad magazines or our Archie or Sad Sack comic books, we’d tell jokes and we’d laugh like we had not a care in the world. Because we didn’t; life was good in the wilderness. Unless my older brothers would tell scary stories, then I did have a care. I had a very vivid imagination back then and envisioned things even worse than they talked about. And if one of them happened to slip out without being seen, they would hit the sides of the tent, or put their face up to one of the tent windows with a flashlight eerily lighting their face, or scream and yell right on cue with the story being told. Whatever they did, it had the desired effect of scaring us younger ones. Good thing Mom and Dad were just 50 feet away!
On really hot summer nights, we’d all pile in the car and go for a cool off ride. No, there wasn’t an air conditioner in the car; we just rode with the windows open. Sometimes we just took a little trip around town, sometimes we drove to a beach. No matter where we went, it usually ended with an ice cream for everybody. There’s nothing like an ice cream on a hot night. It was always a race to eat most, if not all, your ice cream before it turned into a melted, runny mess on your hands, arms and clothes. Then it was back into the car for another cool ride and the trip back home, where there was no air conditioning and only a couple of fans. But at least for an hour or two there was some relief.
I enjoy going away on vacation as a family with my wife and kids. I don’t want to think about what it will be like when my daughter and son are on their own and don’t go with us anymore. That will be a sad day for me and I hope it doesn’t happen for a long time, if ever. If it does happen though, I’ll have a wealth of memories from the years we did take some time to get away together. However, in reality it doesn’t really matter whether you’re camping out in your backyard or sitting on a beach miles away from home. As much as I love the Vineyard, I learned a long time ago that it’s not the vacation spot that’s so important, but rather those with whom you’re vacationing.